Some thoughts on women in musical theatre…

February 1, 2009 § 3 Comments

Having been in many musicals, I’ve definitely noticed some trends in the way women are portrayed, and these trends are rarely good. My main qualm is this: there is a disproportionate amount of female characters who sing entire songs about living luxuriously by marrying rich. SO MANY gold diggers in musical theatre. Here is a list off the top of my head, with some favorite quotes from each:

Buddy Beware- Anything Goes

When invited to dine I can’t eat without wine, So, Buddy, Beware

Always True To You In My Fashion- Kiss Me Kate

There’s an oil man known as “Tex” Who is keen to give me checks And his checks, I fear, mean that sex is here to stay!

Don Juan- Smokey Joe’s Cafe

Don Juan, your money is gone And when your money is gone, Don your babe is gone

Freddy My Love- Grease

Thinking about it, my heart’s pounding already, knowing when you come home we’re bound to go steady, and throw your service pay around like confetti,  Freddy, my love

Ok… so this list turned out to be less expansive than I thought, but I still think it’s worth mentioning. I honestly wouldn’t mind if this kind of song occurred in one musical. In isolation I find each song rather catchy and witty. The fact that there are so many (which I stand by, even though I couldn’t think of them) is upsetting. What’s even grosser to me is that all of these songs are written for altos. Because apparently only women with low voices can be conniving sluts. The sopranos, with more conventionally feminine voices, are generally more pure-hearted.

I’m sorry that this rant is so specific to musical theatre, but it’s something that’s been bothering me recently. Next time I can talk about how there are no stoner movies with female leads!!

§ 3 Responses to Some thoughts on women in musical theatre…

  • mirandanyc says:

    Nice point about sexy songs being written for women with low voices. Women who enjoy sex are portrayed as outside of the feminine ideal – low voices are more masculine and sultry, so the larger message is that if you’re traditionally feminine, being “slutty” is wrong. Having fun sex is only acceptable if you’re manly.

    Sad face.

  • putu says:

    My cousin is going to college for musical theatre, and she told me about this alto dilemma, actually. She says that every song she can find that’s catchy and in her range is a prostitute song. The only other ones are hard-up women songs about having a million kids.

  • gingerlady says:

    Guys and Dolls has a few songs that fit into what you’re talking about too.

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