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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the balance and contradictions between Stephen Sondheim’s auteur status and the collaborative world of popular musical theater within which he has worked. Focusing on Sweeney Todd, it argues that his liberal arts education has facilitated both intertextual collaboration with past authors and literary traditions (Dickens’s London, the film Hangover Square, and previous Sweeney Todd authors, including George Dibdin Pitt and possibly Austin Rosser) and the exercise of artistic control that is potentially demonic, like Todd’s monstrosity, but held in check by a “vaudeville” aesthetic. The number “God, that’s good!” is analyzed in detail to demonstrate the point.

Keywords: genius, auteur, Hangover Square, Dickens, Sweeney Todd, Austin Rosser, artistic collaboration, vaudeville aesthetic

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