Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gorman, David

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


This dissertation examines American Broadway musicals adapted from Victorian horror and mystery novels, investigating the ways in which the musical adaptations represent and critique modern American social problems and traditional American values and ideology. Specifically, it analyzes Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a Musical Thriller, adapted from the anonymously published Victorian penny serial The String of Pearls; Rupert Holmes’s 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, adapted from Charles Dickens’s unfinished 1870 novel of the same name; Frank Wildhorn’s 1997 musical Jekyll & Hyde, adapted from Robert Louis Stephenson’s 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; and Frank Wildhorn’s 2004 musical Dracula, adapted from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel of the same title. This discussion finds that modern American audiences construct a notional version of the Victorian period against which they compare their own societies, traditions, and popular cultures. Furthermore, as horror is a convenient and effective genre through which to explore collective anxieties about precarious and shifting social conditions, these musicals reflect the preoccupations of a tumultuous American culture, despite featuring Victorian characters and settings onstage.


135 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type