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Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical$
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Robert L. McLaughlin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496808554

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2018

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496808554.001.0001

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Opening Doors

Opening Doors

(p.28) Two Opening Doors
Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical

Robert L. McLaughlin

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Sondheim’s musicals from West Side Story to Company. West Side Story and Gypsy mark both an apotheosis of the Rodgers and Hammerstein aesthetic and an introduction of postmodern styles and ideas into the musical. West Side Story is concerned with the operations of power and the reproduction of ideology. Gypsy presents a theatricalization of the American Dream, turning it into a series of images without substance. In Forum a trickster protagonist generates multiple, clashing realities. Anyone Can Whistle examines the problem of identity construction. Company dispenses with plot and thus examines narrative as a structure of knowledge and identity. The play’s drama is generated by the tension between its own cyclical structure and the goal-driven linear narrative implied by marriage.

Keywords:   Sondheim, West Side Story, Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle, Company

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