Literary Manager for Disney Theatrical Group and dramaturg Ken Cerniglia visits Stacy Wolf’s spring music theater course, “Race and the American Musical, From Minstrelsy to Hamilton,” on Tuesday, February 28. The conversation begins at 3:00 p.m. in Room 219 at 185 Nassau Street; free and open to public.
Wolf’s seminar course explores how and why race is a key component of the Broadway musical theatre. From 19th-century minstrel shows, in which African American performers “blacked up” to play black characters previously performed by whites in blackface; to the mid-20th century “golden age” musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, in which Asian characters were created to support a white liberal agenda; to the blockbuster Hamilton, which merges musical theatre conventions and hip hop to re-tell the story of America, performances of race and ethnicity structure the American musical’s aesthetic and political work. How did we get from there to here?
KEN CERNIGLIA is dramaturg and literary manager for Disney Theatrical Group, where since 2003 he has developed over fifty shows for professional, amateur and school productions, including Freaky Friday, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Peter and the Starcatcher, Newsies, The Little Mermaid, High School Musical and Tarzan. He has adapted several Broadway scripts for young performers: Beauty and the Beast JR., The Little Mermaid JR., The Lion King JR., The Lion King KIDS, Aladdin JR. and Newsies JR. Recent freelance projects include Bud, Not Buddy (Kennedy Center), The Passion Trilogy (LMU/Fisher Ensemble), Bridges (Berkeley Playhouse), and Hadestown (New York Theatre Workshop). Ken holds a Ph.D. in theater history and criticism from the University of Washington and is co-founder of the American Theatre Archive Project, artistic director of Two Turns Theatre Company, and president of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). He has published several articles and book chapters and is editor of Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Broadway Play (2012) and Newsies: Stories of the Unlikely Broadway Hit (2013).