More Than Song and Dance with Each Show, Sondheim Redefines the Musical

Stephen Sondheim Redefines the Musical

The birth of pointillist painting. Commodore Perry's opening of Japan to the West. A murderous barber and his woman companion who cooks the victims in pies. A bitter show-biz story of financial rise and moral fall--told chronologically backwards. The ruin of marriages. The disappointments of infidelity. The decline of the chorus-girl kick line as a metaphor for the loss of American innocence.

Unlikely-seeming stuff, any of this, for the makings of Broadway musicals. The U.S., after all, is a nation built on optimism, and the musical, its foremost contribution to the world theater, has typically been seen as a straightforward comic...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!