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Golden Age Project: How To

Online guide to the Golden Age Project



During the course of this project, you will listen to, watch, and read about many musicals from this time period, and choose SIXTEEN musicals that contain a role or song that fits your skills and talents as a performer. You will research each of these shows in order to make educated choices about how you and your skills as a performer fit into the history of musical theatre. From those sixteen, you must then choose EIGHT that you will EXTENSIVELY research and use as your final EIGHT roles and song choices. After choosing the appropriate material, you will fill out the attached information sheet listing the show, character, and songs that would most effectively showcase your talent as a performer.


Assignment Components

Golden Age Tracks to Listen To

After you receive your assignment, head to the library website. Click on the 'Research Guides' tab and then click the link to go to the 'Golden Age Project' Once you get to the home page, click on the 'Music and Songs' tab. On that page you'll find links to Google Drives with all the songs to listen to!

Important: You can only access the drives with your AMDA email address. 

Work Sheets

You'll be turning in your song choices on the worksheets located in the back of your booklet or on the 'Music and Songs' tab of this libguide. 

Printing Out Your Sheet Music

Your Teacher will be giving out song assignments based on your research and role choices. Once you recieve your song assignment, come back up to the library desk and say "I am doing the Golden Age Project. May I please have (insert song name) from (insert show name)?" The library employees will print out the correct sheet music for you and charge your Papercut account. It is very important to let them know you're doing the Golden Age Project. 


When starting this project it is important to keep in mind the following:

 Contemporary Musical Theatre is composed of a rich tapestry of cultural influences that are as broad and complex as the country that embraced and championed the form that now enjoys worldwide popularity. Naturally, as the country has grown and changed, so has the art form. As David Armstrong says on his historical podcast “Broadway Nation”, the American Musical was shaped by the contribution of immigrants, Jews, Queers, women and African Diasporic Peoples. It is derived from racist, stereotypical, and problematic history including minstrelsy, blackface, and other appropriated art forms. It is important for us to acknowledge that some of Broadway’s past contains material that we now consider objectionable and much of this material is rooted in trauma. During this assignment, you will encounter old-fashioned material that contains problematic themes and racist / sexist tropes. The AMDA community is committed to being anti-racist and anti-sexist.

As we study the past with its failures and its triumphs, you will be required to research both world history and the history of musical theatre. We will look at some of these works in historical context and acknowledge the progress that was made by many of the artists of the era who fought to make Broadway more inclusive. When looking at these examples in a contemporary context, it is important to note that some of this work will seem backwards by our current standards. We hope that you will explore these materials and context to further enhance your understanding of our art form and how it impacts your individual performance practice.

Our job as educators and students is to explore these materials together. Your work in exploring the history and context of these pieces will lead to meaningful and rewarding conversations and performances. We invite and encourage participation in conversations about this material fully and openly during this project.


Song Requirements

  1. Please note that while almost every Belter in the class will want to play Annie in Annie Get Your Gun and every Soprano in the class will want to play Julie in Carousel, you are asked to explore a broad array of musicals from each decade in class.
  2. In your TOP EIGHT roles, make sure that you include at least one role that is NOT the leading role. For instance, Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! and Jigger in Carousel are good roles with songs that are done in the show with a group, but can easily be adapted for a solo performance.
  3. Anything that is not on the attached list of songs and shows may not be submitted as choices without PRIOR APPROVAL from the instructor. If in doubt, ASK!
  4. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WHEN VIEWING THE FILM VERSIONS! They are often VERY different than the original material – for instance, the films of On The Town and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes have only a few of the songs from the stage version included and were you to watch only the film and not listen to a recording of the show you would have no idea what songs are possibilities. In both cases, songs from the film are NOT permissible. The casting of these films can also be very deceptive. Were you to watch Brigadoon for example, you might presume that Tommy and Fiona (played by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse) must be extraordinary dancers. By researching the stage version, you would realize these two characters are primarily singers who barely need to lift a foot in dance! Not to mention that some of the best ballads for Tommy were not used in the film due to Kelly’s limited vocal abilities. Also, Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was played by Marilyn Monroe in the film and Carol Channing on Broadway… what does that suggest to you? One more caution would be that stage versions of films, (particularly State Fair and Meet Me in St. Louis) may feature material NOT from the periods we are working on. If in doubt about any material, check with your instructor.
  5. Students should be considering roles for which they can currently meet all necessary requirements. However, there is some latitude for age. If you have any questions, regarding this, again, ask your instructor.

7.   Start this research IMMEDIATELY!!! This will allow you the opportunity to ENJOY this process. Waiting to begin this research until the weekend before the project is due will defeat the purpose. This project should be FUN!!!

                      8.  Just as with the Musicals Project from 1st Semester, you should discuss what you have listened to with your classmates and share ideas about songs. This entire project will be more fun if you help each other (group listening, etc.)

9.   Remember that you want to choose musicals that seem to have roles and songs that are a good fit for you and your skills as a performer. This assignment is about finding songs that offer you a variety of new material to work on



Here are some tips from previous AMDA students who have completed this project:

  • Start as soon as you get it - there is no way to go through it all fast
  • Listen to EVERYTHING!
  • Even if you’ve already found enough songs, keep searching
  • Do something you haven’t done before
  • It’s really about breaking things down into sections
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of songs
  • Don’t wait
  • Analyze each song carefully and do as much research on your character as you can
  • Enjoy your work
  • Take advantage of being in New York and use the different Libraries and various resources
  • Seize the classics - there are so many thrilling performers in this era and great roles to play
  • Listen to all versions of the song that you like
  • Use all the time the teacher gives to do the project
  • Keep the project forever as it will always be useful
  • Don’t take it lightly. Do as much research as possible. You’ll learn so much.
  • Continue researching after you’re done with the project
  • Really pay attention to the lyrics
  • Have fun!