Andrea Most's Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical studies eight musicals (The Jazz Singer, Whoopee, Girl Crazy, Babes in Arms, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, and The King and I) in an effort to explore "how first- and second-generation American Jewish writers, composers, and performers used the theater to fashion their own identities as Americans." Most offers imaginative and often insightful sociological readings of musical librettos, lyrics, even stage directions, but virtually ignores music. That music can sometimes elucidate or contradict an exclusively social or literary reading may be seen, for example, in Emile de Becque's immobility at the end of "Some Enchanted Evening." In other cases, when the social assimilation of Jewish characters is revealed to be a musical one as well, music can support Most's argument. The problem exemplified by writings such as Most's-the distortions and misreadings that may result from a social history that does not engage music-may be seen in the broader context of Broadway and opera scholarship. Lessons to be learned from studying the musical Show Boat and the works of Sondheim point to the need for scholars and critics to consider how the music in musicals might convey social meanings, intellectual content, and dramatic ideas beyond words, stories, and stage directions.
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