Moby Dick, thesis role, Starbuck, musical theatre, trouser role
Moby Dick! The Musical is a comedic parody based on Herman Melville's 1955 classic novel Moby Dick about a madman who seeks revenge on the great white whale that crippled his body and consumed his spirit. The thesis role I have chosen is "Starbuck", the ship's first mate. If this were a dramatic telling of the classic tale, my role would be considered an absurdity for the sure-known fact that Starbuck is a male character. However, since Moby Dick! The Musical is a spoof that features a play within a play, many, if not most, of the roles are being played by women (teenage school-girls to be exact). These roles are known as "trouser roles," and this tradition stems back to the 17th Century. The term refers to a male character sung by a woman (mezzo). It is also referred to as a "breeches part" or in Italian, "travesti". This will be my first trouser role experience. Before today, I hadn't given the concept much thought in relation to musical theatre. These roles generally live in works ranging from Shakespeare to early operetta, and most important, Opera. This thesis role will allow me to log a personal experience in journal form and experience those challenges and rewards that transpire from a live performance. My research will include the history of the "trouser role," including famous performers, specific roles in shows, and the effect it has had on audiences over the years. My main concern, however, is when, where, why, and how the concept made its transition to musicals. It will also be interesting to see what genres these roles are generally written for. Are they all parodies like Moby Dick! The Musical or are there a few dramas thrown into the mix? There will surely be a long list of shows that include the "lady in drag". When all is said and done, I will have a wealth of information in an educational thesis that will prove the significance of an ever-transforming concept.
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Johnson, Rebecca, "Moby Dick! The Musical: A Travesty In Travesti" (2006). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 802.