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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although Stephen Sondheim has long been considered the leading writer for the American musical stage in his generation, and although many of his shows have become repertory fixtures, their original runs have tended to be relatively short, and his thematic engagements with conventional ideas of “America” have often been querulous. To understand better why “Sondheim” and “America” have thus often seemed not to map easily to each other, this chapter considers one of his famous flops, Anyone Can Whistle, in the context of his earlier collaborations with Arthur Laurents and as a show that set an agenda quite different from that of his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II; this new agenda would sustain the remainder of his career to date.

Keywords: Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Oscar Hammerstein II, Anyone Can Whistle, Assassins, Sondheim Celebration, Kennedy Center

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