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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the eight female characters in Company, what they do in the musical, and how they function in the show’s dramaturgy, and argues that they elicit the quintessential challenge of analyzing musical theater from a feminist perspective. On the one hand, the women tend to be stereotypically, even msogynistically portrayed. On the other hand, each character offers the actor a tremendous performance opportunity in portraying a complicated psychology, primarily communicated through richly expressive music and sophisticated lyrics. In this groundbreaking 1970 ensemble musical about a bachelor’s encounters with five married couples and three girlfriends, Sondheim’s female characters occupy a striking range of types within one show. From the bitter, acerbic, thrice-married Joanne to the reluctant bride-to-be Amy, and from the self-described “dumb” “stewardess” April to the free-spirited Marta, Company’s eight women are distillations of femininity, precisely sketched in the short, singular scenes in which they appear.

Keywords: women, gender, marriage, Company, Sondheim, feminism, musical theater, 1970s, Broadway musical, performance

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