Shaw's Major Barbara gets first-ever musical treatment

A supplement to the Spring 2003 issue of the Trinity College Reporter

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  a scene from the production of Barbara Undershaft

A scene from Barbara Undershaft, a first-ever musical treatment of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara, composed by Professor of Music Gerald Moshell and staged at the Austin Art Center's Goodwin Theatre this spring. 


Professor of Music Gerald Moshell has composed a first-ever musical treatment of George Bernard Shaw's play Major Barbara, entitled Barbara Undershaft, which was staged at the Austin Arts Center's Goodwin Theater this spring.

Written in 1905, Major Barbara deals with the contrasting world-views of Barbara Undershaft, a major in the Salvation Army who attempts to help the needy and sick by offering them bread, lodging, and faith in God; and her father, Andrew Undershaft, a wealthy manufacturer who enriches society, and not coincidentally himself, by making weapons. Andrew Undershaft's religion, Moshell says, is money and gunpowder.

Moshell notes that he chose to make Major Barbara into a musical for a number of reasons.

"I can't think of another play that combines ideas and wit so effectively," he says. "It's an immensely provocative play that's also devastatingly funny.

"Also, there are very few musicals with a young, vital, and intelligent woman as the central character, though there are many, many shows with equivalent male central figures," Moshell says.

Only two other Shaw plays have been made into musicals. Arms and the Man was adapted into the operetta The Chocolate Soldier, and Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady.

Excerpts from the production may be heard by clicking on the links below*.

His Children

Moriddle, Moroddle, Moro

Barbara Undershaft This Is It

Barbara Undershaft Your Religion


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To download a free copy of RealPlayer software, simply click here and follow the directions for the Free Download offer. 

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 Trinity College Reporter Spring 2003 Table of Contents