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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The history of the American musical is framed by spectacular successes driven by Faustian elements: The Black Crook (1866, running for decades, based loosely on Weber’s Der Freischütz [The Freeshooter]) and The Phantom of the Opera (1988; still running as of 2019). Yet, straightforwardly Faust-based musicals are rare, with Damn Yankees (1955) being the single obvious example. A discussion of Damn Yankees relates it to other treatments in popular culture, including the film version of The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), as a basis for a wider discussion of Faustian elements deployed in American musical theater, including magic, striving, earning, idealism, temptation, and sexuality, leading to a consideration of the Faustian bargain of the genre itself, which uses the magic of music, dance, sex, and spectacle to seduce audiences and achieve commercial success, but at the apparent price of its artistic soul.

Keywords: Faust, Damned Yankees, The Black Crook, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Phantom of the Opera

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