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Show BoatPerforming Race in an American Musical$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759378.001.0001

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Queenie’s Laugh

Queenie’s Laugh


(p.212) 9 Queenie’s Laugh
Show Boat

Todd Decker

Oxford University Press

The gap between text and performance in the embodiment of racial stereotypes is considered by close analysis of three key female roles—Queenie, Julie, Kim—as remade in the decades after the Civil Rights Movement. “Hot” and “dignified” approaches to Queenie are compared. New vocal approaches to Julie as sung by mixed-race performers Cleo Laine and Lonette McKee are described in context with larger changes in Broadway singing. Efforts by choreographers such as Susan Stroman to use Kim's act two dance number to make an argument about race and popular culture are assessed. Productions discussed in this chapter include the 1971 London production, a 1989 production televised nationally on PBS, and the 1994 Broadway revival directed by Harold Prince.

Keywords:   Cleo Laine, Lonette McKee, Susan Stroman, Harold Prince, Garth Drabinsky, Miguel Godreau, Ellia English, Karla Burns, Papermill Playhouse, Dreamgirls, Big River

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