Musicals: The Weird and the Wonderful

Ref: C2343634

This is a history course based on some well-known musicals. Writers of these works often dealt with complex social, political and historical issues while providing an entertaining show with great songs. We'll look at international politics in the musicals Evita, Call Me Madam and Chess; horror stories used as inspiration for musicals, like Rocky Horror Show and Sweeney Todd; musicals based on fairy stories, some subverted to provide unexpected twists, as in Frozen and Into The Woods; and the controversial side of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Plus other quirky musicals, like the Producers, Hello Dolly!, and Paint Your Wagon.

Course aim

How musicals reflect the historical context in which they are written and contain important political and social commentary, sometimes satirically presented. We will concentrate on some of the apparently unlikely subjects chosen for musicals.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss how Evita and Call Me Madam are influenced by the writers' personal viewpoints of the societies they are describing
  • Give examples of how fairy tale conventions are overturned in Frozen and Into The Woods
  • Identify some of the classic films, stories and characters that fed into horror musicals like Rocky Horror Show and Sweeney Todd.
  • Discuss why "bad taste" is such a prevalent feature of modern musicals, like the Producers and Little Shop of Horrors.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Some method of taking notes

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Musicals: The Weird and the Wonderful


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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