Frank Zappa and musical theatre: ugly ugly o'phan Annie and really deep, intense, thought-provoking Broadway symbolism

Richard Hand, Paul Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The performances of Frank Zappa were renowned for their theatricality and Zappa himself claimed that Nobody has combined music and theatrics in the way I have. Aside from Zappa's legendary and theatrical stage performances, some of his specific compositions have a consciously dramatic narrative that can be fruitfully analysed as remarkable and thoroughly provocative examples of musical theatre. In particular, two works stand out: Joe's Garage Acts I, II and III (1979) a bleak yet humorous satire set in a science fiction dystopia, and Thing-Fish (1984), a narrative-driven drama that explicitly explores yet subverts the Broadway musical form in its uncompromising investigation of AIDS and its social and political impact. In addition, both works demonstrate a disruptive and eviscerating satirical use of sexuality and sex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Musical Theatre
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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