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Christen Mandracchia

Christen Mandracchia

Graduate Student, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

1801 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
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Christen Mandracchia is a fifth-year Ph.D. student. Her dissertation research investigates the contributions of theatre professionals to the period known in popular discourses as the “Disney Renaissance.” Her research interests include theatre history with an emphasis on creative labor, material culture theory, popular culture, and theatre architecture. 

As both a theatre scholar and practitioner, she has served as a director, designer, technical director, dramaturg, and production manager for various productions in Philadelphia and New York City. She recently served as the sound designer for the immersive project the Triumph of Isabella Experience here at UMD and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

Before attending UMD, she directed the award-winning off-Broadway premiere of Dorian Gray the Musical as part of the 2017 New York Musical Festival. Other highlights include serving as general manager for the play I Will Speak for Myself in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016. She served as a lighting designer for the multimedia dance concert ALT-Mode in the 2015 Central Park Summer Stage series, and for multiple Philadelphia Fringe Festival shows from 2011-the present. 

She is the founder of Golden Saga, where she uses her training as a historian and theatre-maker to empower organizations and individuals to tell their stories, in the most effective way possible. She has offered the gold-standard of storytelling in public relations for Covid-relief non-profits, animal rescue organizations, scholars, authors, local politicians, artists, theaters, and many more. 


Education/Training:

  • MA in Theatre, Villanova University

Conference Presentations and Publications:

  • “’The Triumph of Isabella:’ Immersive Tourism as Performance Historiography” at ASTR, Nov 2019.
  • “’Don’t Feed the Plants!’:  Monstrous Normativity and Disidentification in Little Shop of Horrors” at ATHE, Aug 2019.
  • "Gender in Disney Musicals" on Disney Theatrical Roundtable at the DePaul Pop Culture Conference, May 2019. 
  • "“A Beauty but a Funny Girl: a Queer Investigation of the Broadwayfication of Disney” at Song Stage and Screen XI, June 2016.
  • "“A Beauty but a Funny Girl: a Queer Investigation of the Broadwayfication of Disney” at the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium, April 2015. 
  • Mandracchia, Christen. “It’s Good to Be Bad: Resistance, Rebellion, and Disney Villain Merchandise” in Performance and the Disney Theme Park Experience, ed. Jennifer Kokai and Tom Robson. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mandracchia, Christen. “’Don’t Feed the Plants!’:  Monstrous Normativity and Disidentification in Little Shop of Horrors.” Studies in Musical Theatre.

Publications

PhD candidate Christen Mandracchia publishes article in Studies in Musical Theatre

Christen Mandracchia publishes article stemming from her dramaturgical work on TDPS' 2018 production of "Little Shop of Horrors."

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies | Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

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PhD candidate Christen Mandracchia published her article, "‘Don’t feed the plants!’: Monstrous normativity and disidentification in Little Shop of Horrors," in Studies in Musical Theatre. Christen was the dramaturg for TDPS' 2018 production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Abstract

The 1982 camp horror musical Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of a meek little flower shop attendant named Seymour, who comes across a novelty carnivorous plant that eats human blood. The talking plant preys on Seymour’s infatuation with his beautiful co-worker Audrey to radicalize him into feeding the plant ‘fresh’ bodies. Building on the work of theatre scholar Michael Chemers, who asserts that stage monsters represent larger social and political anxieties of their time, this article identifies Seymour, the normal, white, heterosexual everyman, as the real ‘monster’ of the musical. Thus, the musical’s creators, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, exposed the monstrousness of normativity at the poignant moment in American culture, during the early years of the conservative Reagan administration. This article uses José Muñoz’s theory of ‘disidentification’, a strategy employed by marginalized people working ‘on and against dominant ideology’ to analyse the creators’ didactic and subversive strategy.

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