$400 – $450

DGI FALL 2019: The Contemporary Musical Theatre Heroine (Online)

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“The key to a musical book is a larger-than-life central character, preferably, but not always female, overcoming tremendous obstacles to get what she wants.”– producer Margo Lion (Hairspray, Caroline or Change)

Women of action populate the stories of contemporary musical theatre. Overcomers and achievers, doers and not mere dreamers, today’s heroines have descended from some of the strong female characters of the musicals of previous generations. The leading ladies of musicals have climbed every mountain, as well as moved them, for years. Now they’re joined by a contemporary crop of magnificent, dimensional female protagonists.

If you’re writing a musical with a strong woman at the center of the story, how are you thinking about her journey? What drives her choices and relationships with the other characters who populate the world you’re creating? Does your musical pass the Bechdel Test, and why should it? And how do you solve a problem like Maria? Or a better question: is Maria really a problem?

In this 10-week course, we’ll focus on practical insights, culled from musical masterworks, that support bookwriters, lyricists, and composers who are in the process of creating musical theatre work with female protagonists, whether those works are original stories, adaptations, adapted from real events, or bio-musicals.

This course is for participants who:

  • Want to study vivid, dimensional heroines from the musical theatre canon;
  • Want to discover practical principles for creating active and empowered heroines;
  • Want to explore contemporary musicals and the women and men who write them.

During this course, participants will:

  • Read and discuss contemporary musical theatre works that feature dynamic heroines;
  • Listen to and discuss key songs that shape each heroine’s journey;
  • Explore specific types of narratives, including coming of age stories, mother/daughter stories, dual protagonist “buddy” stories, and stories adapted from the lives of real-life heroines.

At the end of the semester, participants will have learned:

  • How to analyze a musical theatre heroine's dramatic arc and song plot;
  • How to apply techniques for creating vivid heroines to musicals they are writing;
  • The names and faces of contemporary musical theatre creators, and the inspirational women and men on whose shoulders they stand.


Instructor: Cheryl Coons
Meeting time: Tuesdays, 7pm - 9pm
Fee: $400 (DG members) $450 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: September 10, 2019
Limit: 20 students

Please note: If you are applying for the DGI Certificate in Dramatic Writing, please register now to reserve your place in this class. If you are admitted to the certificate program, these tuition fees will be deducted from the overall cost of the program.

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