This seminar examines the musicals of Stephen Sondheim, from page to stage. Focusing on a different musical each week from Gypsy (1959) to Road Show (2009), we will ask, How do musical theatre’s elements of music, lyrics, script, dance, and design cohere in Sondheim’s musicals? We will explore influences on his art, both personal and cultural, his collaborators, and the historical and theatrical milieu. We’ll study the musicals themselves by reading libretti, listening to music, seeing taped and live performances, researching production histories, and analyzing popular, critical, and scholarly reception.
Sample reading list:
Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, Company
Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman, Follies
Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, A Little Night Music
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Sunday in the Park with George
Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, Assassins
Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) w/Attendant
Reading, listening to music, and watching a taped version of one musical per week. 50-100 pages of weekly critical and scholarly readings. Written assignments include script analysis, musical number analysis, précis of critical/scholarly article, research presentation, discussion facilitation.
Ability to read music not required. Optional performance component likely. Class will include visiting guest artists and a Saturday field trip to NYC to visit the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the New York Public Library and to see a show.