September 30, 2016

Film and television producer Debra Martin Chase at Princeton University

Founder of Martin Chase Productions and executive producer of films such as The Princess Diaries and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Debra Martin Chase will discuss her work as a television and film producer in a conversation with students as part of Theater Professor Stacy Wolf ‘s fall course “Isn’t It Romantic: The Broadway Musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim.” The discussion will take place on Tuesday, October 4 at 3:00 p.m. in Room 219 at 185 Nassau Street. Presented by the Lewis Center’s new Program in Music Theater and cosponsored by Princeton’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the event is free and open to the public.

Wolf’s course examines the performances of gender, sexuality, and romance in the Broadway musical theater since the 1940s, including, for example, In the Heights and West Side Story. The semester includes a trip to the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center in New York City, as well as discussions with visiting figures in musical theater.

debra martin chase

Film/television producer and founder of Martin Chase Productions Debra Martin Chase. Photo courtesy Martin Chase Productions

Debra Martin Chase is the founder and president of Martin Chase Productions and an outspoken advocate for diversity and representation in cinema. In the past, she has run Denzel Washington’s Mundy Lane Entertainment, as well as Whitney Houston’s Brown House Productions, before forming her own company, Martin Chase Productions, which has been affiliated with The Walt Disney Company and the ABC Television Network. Chase has produced hit films such as The Princess Diaries movies, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, starring America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, and Blake Lively. She was the executive producer of the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella, which starred Whoopi Goldberg, Brandy, and Whitney Houston and received seven Emmy nominations. Chase also produced the remake of the musical Sparkle, starring Whitney Houston. Besides The Princess Diaries series, Chase has produced other hits for The Walt Disney Company such as The Cheetah Girls franchise and Lemonade Mouth. She is currently a member of the Television Arts and Sciences, as well as the Board of the Second Stage Theatre and the New York City Ballet.

Wolf teaches courses in American musical theater history, dramaturgy and dramatic literature, histories of U.S. performance, performance theory, and performance studies. She is the author of Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical (recently named one of the “top ten books every theater lover should read” by Marissa Friedman); A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical; and the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of the American Musical. She is currently working on Beyond Broadway: Four Seasons of Amateur Musical Theatre in the U.S., which examines amateur musical theater at high schools, summer camps, community centers, and afterschool programs across the country. Wolf is also director of the Princeton Arts Fellows program in the Lewis Center.

Wolf’s course will be hosting discussions with other musical theater scholar and practitioners throughout the semester. On October 11, Elizabeth L. Wollman, a musical theater scholar and professor at Baruch College, as well as the author of both The Theater Will Rock: A History of the Rock Musical from “Hair” to “Hedwig” and Hard Times: The Adult Musical in 1970s New York City, will give a lecture on “Broadway and the Generation Gap in the 1960s.” On October 25, Broadway actress Rema Webb will discuss her career and performances, including in the musicals The Color Purple, The Lion King, and The Book of Mormon. Also on October 25, alumnus Lorraine Goodman, Princeton Class of 1983, will lead a workshop on performing musicals across gender. On November 15, the musical director, composer, and conductor Paul Bogaev will teach a master class. All of these events will be free and open to the public.

The new Program in Music Theater is a collaboration among the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater and Program in Dance and the Department of Music, which brings together students, faculty, and guest artists in the creation, study, and performance of music theater to support and develop all forms of music theater—that is, any theatrical form that combines singing, acting, and movement—as both an artistic practice and a field of scholarly study.

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