Female Empowerment Through Musical Theatre
By Stephanie Harte
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Music Theatre of Madison
Tired of seeing female characters constantly portrayed through the eyes of men in musical theatre, Meghan Randolph set out to produce a show that accurately represents women in 2018.
Beyond the Ingenue, presented by Randolph’s professional company Music Theatre of Madison, is a revue of musical theatre songs that portray a variety of strong, independent ladies.
With direction by Wendy Jones-Hill and music direction by Lisa Mueller, the cast is comprised of women artists ranging from age 15 to 60. The cast includes entrepreneurs, educators, mothers, and two teenagers on the brink of learning what it means to be a woman.
“Women are so often portrayed in entertainment as having it all together…their houses are perfect, their lives are perfect, and they are perfect mothers,” Randolph says. “I think it will be fun and rewarding for people, both men and women, to hear another side of that story, to hear how hard it is to struggle with that, and to hear it in the context of musical theatre.”
Jones-Hill, Mueller and Randolph did six months of research on emerging female composers in order to curate the show. Fitting with Music Theatre of Madison’s mission to introduce new and lesser-known pieces, Randolph shares that some of the songs performed in the revue will be unfamiliar to audiences.
Meghan Randolph, Executive Director of Music Theatre of Madison.
One of Randolph’s personal favorites is the revue’s opening number entitled Before I Lose My Mind from the seldom produced musical The Danger Year.
“It goes through the craziness of, ‘I have to do this, I have to take my kids to school, I have to tell my husband not to wear that shirt, I have to read my friend’s book..’ and then sort of deteriorates into I want to take a vacation…I want to drink a bunch of wine…,” Randolph explains. “The way the song is written gives a sense of that urgency and that anxiety of everything piling up.”
All the songs from Beyond the Ingenue are from contemporary musicals, with most composed by women. Some of the themes discussed throughout the pieces include sisterhood, motherhood, aging, careers, abuse and body image.
“There are plenty of stories out there about other issues that women face that don’t have to do with men,” Randolph says. “Not that there’s anything wrong with falling in love or being in love, but we’ve already told that story,”
“Beyond the Ingenue,” presented by Music Theatre of Madison, runs Nov. 9 – 10 at The Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington Ave. Both performances are “Pay What You Can.” Free partial performances with talkbacks include: Oct. 12, 7 p.m.: Black Earth Public Library, Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m.: Oakwood Village Auditorium, Oct.19, 7:00 p.m: Capitol Lakes, Oct. 21, 2 p.m.: Stoughton Library, October 24, 6:30pm: Middleton Library. To make a reservation, click here.