Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
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.
Erickson, Amy, ""Killers who Preach": Horror and the "Victorian" Culture Text in the Modern american Musical" (2023). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7317.
Northern Illinois University
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