The educational value of producing Broadway musicals at the secondary-school level
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the practice of producing Broadway musicals at the secondary-school level. An attempt is made to establish a link between this practice and both Arts education and general education. The value of the fine arts to general education is explored via a review of the literature. An apparent lack of support by some educators and the general public is identified. Building on the work of Howard Gardner, benefits of Arts education are identified. Ways in which Arts education enhances cognition and contributes to the development of the whole mind or whole individual are discussed. The value of the musical as a merging of content and process is also discussed. The musicals, Anything Goes, South Pacific, The Music Man, Bye, Bye. Birdie and Fiddler on the Roof are analyzed for the subject matter they offer to students who are involved in their production. Each musical is investigated for its social, cultural, historical, and literary components. An in-depth analysis is made of the process of producing West Side Story at the secondary-school level. The importance of allowing students to control their own learning is discussed in the approach to producing the show. Opportunities to experience the kind of enhanced cognitive functioning inherent in fine arts expression are identified in three categories of songs and scenes from West Side Story. Conclusions based on analyses contained in this study include recommendations to administrators as well as recommendations to secondary-school drama directors. The recommendations support the continued practice of producing Broadway musicals at the secondary-school level.