The Theater Will Rock: A History of the Rock Musical, from Hair to Hedwig

"ROCK MUSIC has always had an uneasy relationship with the American musical theater," observes Assistant Professor of Music Elizabeth Wollman in the introduction to her book, The Theater Will Rock (University of Michigan Press, 2006). And it's no wonder. From notions of authenticity to song arrangements to audience expectations, the aesthetics of rock and musical theatre are almost diametrically opposed.

Thus it's all the more remarkable when a "rock musical" becomes a bona fide hit. Two notable examples, Hair and Rent, are explored in detail, along with distinguished flops, such as Paul Simon's Capeman, and several shows that fall somewhere in between (The Who's Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar). Wollman provides quotes throughout from individuals involved with various productions as well as pundits, such as New York Times rock critic Jon Pareles, who dismissed The Who's Tommy as "almost Reaganesque in its tranquility." Included are decade-spanning photos illustrating the evolution of the phenomenon: 1959's The Girls Against the Boys, featuring Bert Lahr and Nancy Walker as ridiculous-looking teenagers, seems centuries removed from the drag-queen glam of 1998's Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And, as Wollman concludes, there's undoubtedly more change to come: it's just a matter of time before a hip-hop musical comes to Broadway, where it will generate as much debate as Hair did in 1968.



Fighting for Our Lives:
New York's AIDS Community and the Politics of Disease

(Department of Sociology and Anthropology)
Rutgers University Press, 2006
New York City battled more known cases of AIDS during the first decade of the epidemic than the 40 most-infected cities combined, including San Francisco. Chambré's social history of the city's AIDS community traces the last 25 years of the struggle, analyzing the diverse social, political, and scientific factors that converged to form local and national AIDS policy.

The Games Black Girls Play:
Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop

(Departments of Fine and Performing Arts and
Sociology and Anthropology)
NYU Press, 2006
Illustrating how black musical styles are incorporated into the earliest games African American girls learn—how, in effect, these games contain the DNA of black music—Gaunt draws on interviews, recordings of hand-clapping games and cheers, and her own observation and memories of game playing.

Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist
(Department of Fine and Performing Arts)
Harmony Books, 2007
Coinciding with the Brooklyn Museum's permanent installation of Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, a pioneering multimedia project symbolizing the history of women in Western civilization, the publication of Levin's biography details the metamorphosis of Judith Gerowitz, née Cohen, "a nice Jewish girl from Chicago," into the groundbreaking artist who redefined herself as the feminist movement gained momentum in the 1970s.

Disability and Business:
Best Practices and Strategies for Inclusion

(Department of English)
University Press of New England, 2006
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities—physical and mental, visible and invisible—remains high, and businesses remain uncertain about how to hire and manage one of America's largest minorities. Riley's guide to incorporating disability into corporate hiring strategies makes the case that inclusion leads to higher revenues and a more diverse talent pool while enhancing a company's reputation.

School Reform, Corporate Style: Chicago, 1880–2000
(School of Public Affairs)
University Press of Kansas, 2006
This examination of the tenuous and often fraught relationships among parents, educators, politicians, and business leaders involved in Chicago school reform in the 20th century serves as a cautionary tale about the politics of urban schooling. Shipps reassesses the class, economic, and racial issues that ultimately kept that city's school system trapped in a cycle of reform with little real improvement.