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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Stephen Sondheim’s 1966 television musical Evening Primrose is an intriguing snapshot that captures a number of intersecting impulses: Sondheim’s own predilection toward mystery, fantasy, and the macabre; the shifting ground of mid-century popular culture, both in style and medium; and a yearning for the urban pastoral, an escape from the urbanization, mechanization, and alienation of the modern condition, particularly in New York City. Charles is a poet who escapes into a department store; there, he discovers an aging, alternative society that lives in fear of “the Dark Men,” and a young woman, Ella, who was lost in the store as a child and is now entrapped as a servant. Sondheim’s score both reflects the prose of John Collier’s fantastical epistolary short story and foreshadows Sondheim’s own distinctive text-setting and musical-thematic relationships.

Keywords: Stephen Sondheim, John Collier, television musical, urban pastoral, dark fantasy, text setting, urbanization, commercialization, adaptation

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