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Often dismissed as kitsch sentimentalism, The Sound of Music (1959)has proven enduringly popular and surprisingly influential, both within the field of musical theatre and the wider world. The Broadway production won five Tony Awards, the London production became the longest-running West End musical, and the movie version became the highest-grossing film of all time. Over sixty years it has become a cultural icon, with wildly shifting significance in different cultures, but the stage musical has often been eclipsed and altered by the popularity of the film.
In this series of short essays, the stage musical is re-examined from seven different perspectives, revealing the ways in which it continues to impact the twenty first century. Julian Woolford examines how the musical heralded the end of an era on Broadway; its reinvention of history and biography; how the film version has influenced future stage productions and the ways in which it put child performers centre stage paving the way for modern musicals such as Billy Elliott and Matilda.
The final three chapters consider how, nearly 60 years after its stage debut, the musical has a direct impact on the modern world, through its recent iterations as event (television casting shows, ‘sing-a-long’ versions), through Salzburg’s recent embracing of the musical after years of ambivalence, and finally looks at The Sound of Music in the Middle East, where it has become a symbol of antifundamentalism.
1. The Sound of Music as Icon 2. The Sound of Music as Ghost 3. The Sound of Music as 'Ploovie' 4. The Sound of Music as 'Kidsical' 5. The Sound of Music as Event 6. The Sound of Music as Reconciliation 7. The Sound of Music as Anti-Fundamentalism
Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.
Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.