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Music Theatre of Sondheim

ENGL 256.601
MW 5-6:30

Stephen Sondheim is generally considered by theatre critics and a large sector of the public the most significant composer and lyricist in the contemporary theatre; he is, in fact, one of the few artists working in musicals who is accorded the kind of serious consideration generally reserved for "legitimate" playwrights. In this seminar, we will examine what are essentially three stages in Sondheim's long and productive career: first as a lyricist, collaborating with Jule Styne (GYPSY) and Leonard Bernstein (WEST SIDE STORY). Beginning in 1970, Sondheim -- now both composer and lyricist -- began a partnership with director Harold Prince that produced a series of musicals (including COMPANY, FOLLIES, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, PACIFIC OVERTURES, SWEENEY TODD and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG) still thought to be among the most innovative and substantial in the history of the genre. Finally, we will examine Sondheim's musicals since his 1981 break with Prince. These later works, co-produced with theatre artists including James Lapine (SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, INTO THE WOODS) and Jerry Zaks (ASSASSINS), are often smaller in scale, intensely personal, and incorporate elements of performance art and other forms of popular culture.

fulfills requirements