Theater Historian Ben West Writing ‘The American Musical: Evolution of an Art Form’

Musical theater artist and historian Ben West is writing a new book, “The American Musical: Evolution of an Art Form.”

The book will be released by Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, on April 1, 2024. This comprehensive history of an American theatrical tradition offers a detailed and definitive portrait of the musical’s artistic evolution over the course of seven distinct eras. The company says it offers a unique perspective gleaned from research at more than 20 different archives across the United States.  

“The American Musical” looks at the form’s 19th century beginnings, through its 20th century maturation and to the turn of the 21st century, while examining the authors, directors and craftspeople who have worked on Broadway and beyond. This book actively addresses the musical’s often overlooked female and African-American artists, looking at outside influences on its development such as minstrelsy, vaudeville, nightclubs and burlesque.

In addition to his new book, West created 20 “Timeline Wall” exhibits for the Museum of Broadway that collectively trace the history of the Broadway stage from 1732 to 2021 and highlight more than 500 productions and 100 artists. He has worked in various capacities on Broadway, off Broadway and regionally. He also created and directed “Unsung Carolyn Leigh” for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. West has lectured and spoken at several institutions including Yale University, University of Michigan, the Dramatists Guild, Howard University and the Shubert Organization. He is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award.  

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