Female Archetypes as Explored by Norbert Leo Butz

Norbert Leo ButzNorbert Leo Butz is a successful and well-loved Broadway performer, having performed roles in Rent, Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me if You Can, among others. He is a Tony winner who will soon return to Broadway in the musical version of the film Big Fish and recently finished an engagement at the popular club 54 Below, performing a song cycle titled “Girls, Girls, Girls” which I was fortunate enough to catch. In his set, Norbert covered primarily rock and R&B songs, all of which were selected to focus on certain female archetypes that appear in mythology and fiction.

At the start of his performance, Norbert gave a bit of information about his personal life in which all his “major relationships are with women” referring to his wife, ex-wife, daughters, mother, and friends. He then shared a story of an argument with his wife which ended with her telling him that he had no idea what she was feeling. This exchange set him on a journey of trying to understand more about the women in his life and he was encouraged by a friend of his to look at female archetypes. These archetypes (the ones he explored in song, at least) came primarily from Greek mythology (Athena, Hera, Demeter, etc.) and Freudian writings (the Mother, the Maiden, and the Crone).

For each archetype presented, Norbert explained their significance and expounded a little on how they can be found in women today before singing a song meant to further elaborate on or exemplify the given persona. There were some song choices I questioned, such as the use of “Stacy’s Mom” to connect to the archetype of the Mother because the song isn’t really about a mother (despite its title) or motherhood so much as it is about young male lust. There were a couple other choices which seemed to have more to do with how men related to these women rather than the women themselves, but overall I found his song choices to be very interesting.

More than anything, I was just so impressed by Norbert’s choice to educate himself on the portrayals of women in fiction and then go beyond that research to create a piece of art which celebrates women. Throughout the evening, he discussed the importance of women in our world and the disproportionate amount of appreciation they receive. He also owned up to his own shortcomings and ignorance, showing that he really is passionate about understanding more about women and improving himself in relation to them. It was a great evening in every way: excellent performance, thoughtful commentary, and meaningful content.