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He reviews the productions, lyrics, staging, and casts from the lesser-known early musicals (the "gunboat" musicals of the Teddy Roosevelt era and the "Cinderella shows" and "leisure time musicals" of the 1920s) and continues his analysis with better-known shows including Showboat, Porgy and Bess, Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story, Cabaret, Hair, Company, and A Chorus Line. While most examinations of the American musical focus on specific shows or emphasize the development of the musical as an art form, Jones's book studies musicals as a way of illuminating broader, ever-changing social and cultural themes of the times. With six appendixes detailing the long-running diversionary musicals and a foreword by Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist of Fiddler on the Roof, Jones's comprehensive social history will appeal to both students and fans of Broadway.
“Our Musical, Ourselves . . . may foreshadow a new era in the study of the musical . . . [an] accessible read . . . [a] must read for the musical theatre scholar... a text that finally fills the void of a needed comprehensive history of the musical that, more importantly, places each musical squarely in the context of the time in which it was created.”—Theatre History Studies
“[A]n overview of the American musical for the entire twentieth century . . . a strength of the book, in addition to the author’s obvious enthusiasm for his subject matter, is that it has something to say about dozens of shows not even mentioned by [other] authors.”—Kurt Weill Newsletter
“The very fact that [Our Musicals, Ourselves] looks at potential interfaces between social and political developments and the Broadway musical is laudable . . . The study’s expansive scope, its attempts at connecting historical narrative with a narrative of genre evolution, as well as Jones’s near encyclopedic knowledge of social and political themes in Broadway productions provide an excellent starting point for further analysis of specific periods, sub-genres, and issues in American musical theater.”—American Studies