Nonprofit Directors in the 1990s
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After the pioneering efforts of theatres such as the Public Theater and Playwrights Horizons, the idea of the serious nonprofit musical spread to theatres across America during the 1990s. While these shows met with varying levels of economic and critical success, the very existence of this alternative home for the art form began to redefine the musical, offering an alternative to both the traditional Broadway musical and the new West End shows. As the economics of the commercial theatre became increasingly forbidding, the nonprofit theatres became vital incubators for musical dramas and nurtured a new generation of musical theatre writers including William Finn, Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa, Jason Robert Brown, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jeanine Tesori, and Kirsten Childs. They also helped to produce a new generation of directors whose approach to musical theatre was shaped by the aesthetics of nonprofit drama rather than Broadway musicals. A closer examination of two directors (George C. Wolfe and Tina Landau) and three key musicals from this era (Jelly’s Last Jam, Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, and Floyd Collins) reveals the central role of a new kind of musical theatre director in creating these shows.
KeywordsNonprofit Sector Original Production Musical Theatre Musical Drama Nonprofit Director
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