Are Broadway musicals feminist? It’s a fair question, given that many classic examples of the genre evince their fair share of outdated attitudes regarding gender and the role of women in society. However, as Dr. Stacy Wolf of Princeton University points out, there’s a surprising undercurrent of feminism even in the more traditional musicals of the 1950s or major commercial hits of recent years, such as Wicked. Stacy’s book Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical tracks how women’s roles have changed on the stage throughout the post-war period, and she joined us to share some of her insights.

Chita Rivera & Carol Lawrence in West Side Story, 1957. Picture courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

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