This critical introduction to British musical theatre since 1950 is the first book to discuss its post-war developments from the perspective of British – as opposed to American – popular culture. The genre is situated within the historical context of post-war British society in order to explore the range of forms through which significant sociocultural moments are represented.
Introductory chapters analyse the way British musicals have responded to social change, the forms of popular theatre and music from which they have developed and their originality in elaborating new narrative strategies since the seventies. A key feature of the book is its close readings of twelve key works, from Salad Days (1954) and Oliver! (1960) to global smash hits such as Les Misérables (1985) and The Phantom of the Opera (1986) and beyond, including the latest critical and box-office success Matilda (2011). Also analysed are British favourites (Blood Brothers, 1983), cult shows (The Rocky Horror Show, 1975) and musicals with a pre-existing fan-base, such as Mamma Mia! (1999).