It's that time again! Herein I present to you the list of the subjects my students have chosen for their final papers (which are all graded!!). In place of my usual links to the music in question, which are very difficult when discussing live shows—do you know how many terrible high school productions are now on YouTube for the world to almost see and sort of hear a little?—I've decided to include the themes they used to talk about the shows.
Annie: dreams v. reality
Beauty and the Beast: after reading so, so many final exams about it, I've forgotten what the paper was on
Cats: attraction v. empathy
Chess: disguising selfishness through nationalism
Chicago: innocence, lies, and sexiness
Cinderella (Brandy): gender roles
Company: growing up
Damn Yankees: the seductiveness of Communism!
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: satirizing the hero
Evita: outsiders and cynicism
Funny Girl: gender performance
Godspell: Vietnam and religion
Grease: gender roles
Guys and Dolls: the 50s and conformity
Hairspray x 2: race, size, gender and the 60s; this one sort of directs the topic on its own
High Society: class, jazz, and a little race
How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying): sexual innuendo and corporate culture
In the Heights: finding out you're already home right where you are--Wizard of Oz much?
Les Misérables: the personal v. the political
A Little Night Music: choosing the right partners? I don't really remember, but it was very Send in the Clowns-y, with a little Night Waltz.
The Little Mermaid x 2: parental authority and teenage rebellion or something like that
Little Shop of Horrors x 2: class and morality
Mamma Mia!: gender, with a touch of race
Mary Poppins x 2: magic and nonsense; father figures
Miss Saigon: Orientalism and "reverse Orientalism." Which was really just more Orientalism.
Mulan: breaking gender boundaries
My Fair Lady x 2: gender roles, but again after all the final exams I've forgotten the other one...
Oliver!: class (duh)
Parade: xenophobia and anti-Semitism
Passion: writing your emotions
Peter Pan (Disney): the cyclical nature of growing up, I think
Peter Pan (Mary Martin): Victorian gender roles
Phantom of the Opera x 2: masks. And also masks.
Pippin: satire of war
Porgy and Bess: love
The Producers: feminizing the Nazis
Rent x 2: isolation and community after 9/11; gender
South Pacific x 2: racism! Also other racism.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut: something about blaming Canada, but I forget the details. There was a graduate paper on South Park after I read this one, and now my head is stuck on that one.
The Sound of Music x 2: conformity v. individuality; something about comfort; this one I forget because I just wrote about it.
Spring Awakening x 2: adolescence, sex, authority
Sweeney Todd (Film): I remember something about Mrs. Lovett, but not what it was...
Sweeney Todd (Stage): obsession and the Industrial Revolution
West Side Story: after about 35 WSS essays, not a chance I remember this particular one
White Christmas: racism and patriotism
The Wizard of Oz: courage
You Were Never Lovelier: race and gender