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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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date: 22 May 2019

Take Me to the World

Take Me to the World

(p.148) Four Take Me to the World
Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical

Robert L. McLaughlin

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Sondheim’s plays from Sunday in the Park with George to Road Show. While still engaging in the postmodern interrogation of knowledge and the limits of representation, these plays suggest a desire to find a direct experience of the real. Sunday in the Park explores the creation and purpose of art. Into the Woods uses traditional fairy tales to explore the connections between narrative and identity. Assassins overturns the ideas of official American history and the American Dream. Passion marks a clear dissatisfaction with the absorption of reality into representation. Caught within a web of language, the characters long for a reality—love—outside self-referring discourse. The Frogs examines the social inertia that results from the devolution of language from communication to cliché. Road Show sets two brothers in a societal closed system in which art, narrative, and language tend toward exhaustion.

Keywords:   Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion

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