Musical Theatre as Liberal Education: Interdisciplinary Lessons from Sondheim

Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

performance, voice, community studies
theatre, opera, film, performance studies

          “Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”

          “Musicals are, by nature, theatrical, meaning poetic, meaning having to move the audience's imagination and create a suspension of disbelief, by which I mean there's no fourth wall.”

                                          --Stephen Sondheim


Stephen Sondheim is widely considered by critics and public alike to be the most influential and innovative composer/lyricist in American musical theatre.  His works demonstrate that musicals, both on and off Broadway, are powerful vehicles for important ideas about self, culture, history, and creativity.  Working with the sources, scores, and texts for these complex and subtle musical plays requires us to collaborate, to cross cultural barriers, and to become personally engaged with the ways they are embodied. We will learn how Sondheim brings "order out of chaos.”  From a performance standpoint, we will study (and sing!) representative songs from Sondheim’s musicals.  Students will also actively participate in staging practices of the musical in general and Sondheim's works in particular.  Our examination of Sondheim's art will also involve analysis and some writing.  Students will be expected to read the assigned texts, do required listening and screening, and complete all writing assignments.  


Program Details

Fields of Study

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening and Weekend

Advertised schedule: 6-9:30p Wed plus 10a-5p on five Sat (Apr. 11, 25, May 2, 16, 30)


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Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

(8 credits): 30009

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