Shakespeare as Jukebox Musical is the first book-length study of a growing performance phenomenon: musical adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in which characters sing existing popular songs as one of their modes of communication. John Severn shows how these highly allusive works give rise to the pleasures of collaborative reception, and also lend themselves to political work, particularly in terms of identity politics and a valorisation of diversity. Drawing on musical theatre history, adaptation theory, Shakespeare studies and musicology, the book develops a critical approach that allows jukebox-musical versions of Shakespeare to be understood and valued both for their political potential and for the experiences they offer to audiences as artistic responses to Shakespeare. Case studies from the USA, the UK and Australia demonstrate how these works open new windows on Shakespeare’s plays and their performance traditions, on the wider jukebox musical trend, and on adaptation as an art form.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Shakespeare as Jukebox Musical Section One: Historical Forebears 2. Shakespeare as Eighteenth-century Ballad Opera 3. Shakespeare as Nineteenth-century Musical Spectacular and Burlesque Section Two: Reception and Structure 4. Song placement and the Carnivalesque: Barrie Kosky’s King Lear and the Troubadour Theater Company 5. Layered Allusions, Genre and Medium: The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet Section Three: Modes of Reception 6. The Shakespearean Jukebox Musical as Interrogative Text: Kenneth Branagh’s Love’s Labour’s Lost Section Four: Engaging with Twelfth Night’s Unstable Identities 7. Play On! and its Ghosts 8. All Shook Up and the Unannounced Adaptation 9. Conclusion
John R. Severn is a Macquarie University Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Sydney. His research focuses on theatre, opera, musical theatre, adaptation and community, with a particular interest in the ways that musical and operatic adaptations of Shakespeare and other playwrights for the spoken stage have been used to create and maintain various forms of local, national and international community, both in the past and today.