From Cabaret to Sweeney Todd: Musical Drama on Broadway

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


Harold Prince’s role in establishing musical drama on Broadway can be clearly seen in his body of work from Cabaret (1966) to Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1993). A closer examination of four early shows—Cabaret., Company (1970), Evita (1978), and Sweeney Todd (1979)—reveal the way in which Prince anticipated the director-dramaturgs of the following decades through his active participation in the development process, his need for social relevance, and his incorporation of structural formats and staging techniques beyond the traditions of the American musical theatre. Just as much of American drama in the 1970s was heavily indebted to European playwrights such as Brecht, Beckett, and Pinter, so the structure and staging of many Prince musicals were influenced by a number of foreign directors and theatre traditions. Although these connections have been touched on elsewhere—notably in Ilson—the extent of Princes interest in theatre outside America has not been extensively analyzed and can usefully be examined here to demonstrate the incorporation of foreign theatre traditions into the Broadway musical even before the so-called British Invasion of the 1980s and 90s.


Social Drama Staging Technique Musical Drama Iconic Image American Drama 
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© Miranda Lundskaer-Nielsen 2008

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