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Victorians on Broadway

Literature, Adaptation, and the Modern American Musical
Sharon Aronofsky Weltman

BUY Cloth · 328 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813944319 · $75.00 · Jul 2020
BUY Ebook · 328 pp. · ISBN 9780813944333 · $37.50 · Jul 2020
BUY Paper · 328 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813944326 · $37.50 · Jul 2020

Broadway productions of musicals such as The King and I, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, and Jekyll and Hyde became huge theatrical hits. Remarkably, all were based on one-hundred-year-old British novels or memoirs. What could possibly explain their enormous success?

Victorians on Broadway is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary study of live stage musicals from the mid- to late twentieth century adapted from British literature written between 1837 and 1886. Investigating musical dramatizations of works by Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others, Sharon Aronofsky Weltman reveals what these musicals teach us about the Victorian books from which they derive and considers their enduring popularity and impact on our modern culture.

Providing a front row seat to the hits (as well as the flops), Weltman situates these adaptations within the history of musical theater: the Golden Age of Broadway, the concept musicals of the 1970s and 1980s, and the era of pop mega-musicals, revealing Broadway’s debt to melodrama. With an expertise in Victorian literature, Weltman draws on reviews, critical analyses, and interviews with such luminaries as Stephen Sondheim, Polly Pen, Frank Wildhorn, and Rowan Atkinson to understand this popular trend in American theater. Exploring themes of race, religion, gender, and class, Weltman focuses attention on how these theatrical adaptations fit into aesthetic and intellectual movements while demonstrating the complexity of their enduring legacy.


Victorians on Broadway is an important and original study that opens a new field of inquiry: the critical analysis of Broadway musical adaptations of Victorian literary texts. Sharon Aronofsky Weltman is the perfect person to undertake such a study, and she has done a beautiful job with it. Her book promises to become the authoritative account of its topic for years to come.

John O. Jordan, University of California, Santa Cruz, author of Supposing "Bleak House"

About the Author: 

Sharon Aronofsky Weltman, William E. Davis Alumni Professor of English at Louisiana State University, is author of Performing the Victorian: John Ruskin and Identity in Theater, Science, and Education, among other works.

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