The 2017 National Women’s Music Festival (NWMF) has exciting news! The Saturday Night Stage will showcase Babe! An Olympian Musical, telling the story of “the greatest athlete of the 20th century,” Babe Didrikson. This is the first full-book, full-chorus musical about women athletes, starring a butch female lead and featuring a lesbian love story.
The book and lyrics are by Carolyn Gage, the author of seventy-five plays, who specializes in non-traditional roles for women—especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. The score is by Andrea Jill Higgins, noted composer, musical director, pianist, and teacher.
Babe! is a big, brassy, muscular celebration of women athletes, tracing Babe’s journey from an amateur basketball league, to the 1932 women’s track-and-field Olympic team, to her dramatic rebranding of herself to become the highest paid woman golfer in the world. Along the way, Babe struggles against both homophobia and misogyny, in a world where ambition and winning are considered unwomanly.
Babe is also the story of a butch woman’s rejection by a mother with traditional values. Finding support from her little sister, and later from her lover Betty Dodd, Babe transforms herself from a stigmatized outsider to the champion who will bust open the door to professional sports for women.
The NWMF showcase will feature a pit orchestra, as well as their gifted women’s chorus. Babe! has been in development in Minneapolis and Phoenix, and the NWMF is proud to present the score from this new musical on its journey to open new horizons in mainstream musical theatre.