Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Forum represents an idiosyncratic attempt to reconcile the principles of musical comedy with Sondheim’s avowed preference for writing integrated musical drama. The sources of its plot in Roman farce become a pretext for a camp pastiche of the vulgar clichés of American burlesque and vaudeville. By analyzing the dramaturgical function of the individual songs, the chapter illustrates the various ways in which their evocation of the thought processes of type characters motivates the causal logic of the plot. The ingenuity of their placement and form is shown to shape the mood and pace of the action, while their stylistic cleverness is revealed as an enhancement of the metatheatricality of Shevelove and Gelbart’s book, producing a play of self-reflexive ironies that foreshadows Sondheim’s later experiments with the nonlinear structure of the postmodern musical.

Keywords: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, musical comedy, musical play, Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart, Plautus, Roman comedy, farce, Hammerstein, postmodern musical, vaudeville, burlesque

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.