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"Writing the Historical Libretto: Pacific Overtures, Assassins, Road Show"
A Conversation with John Weidman

The Music Theater Lab at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts will present a series of guests “in conversation” on the musical theatre of Stephen Sondheim. On March 4, award-winning librettist John Weidman will be featured in a conversation on “Writing the Historical Libretto: Pacific Overtures, Assassins, and Road Show.” On March 11, “Musical Directing Sondheim” will be the topic of a conversation with acclaimed musical director Rob Berman. Broadway actor Becky Ann Baker will lead a master class and conversation on “Acting Sondheim Songs” on March 25. All of the events will begin at 3:00 p.m. in Room 219 at 185 Nassau Street and are free and open to the public.

The conversations will take place in the context of Professor of Theater Stacy Wolf’s spring seminar course entitled “The Musical Theatre of Stephen Sondheim.” In the seminar, students are examining Sondheim’s musicals from page to stage, focusing on a different production each week, from Company (1970) to Road Show (2009). They are studying how musical theatre's elements of music, lyrics, script, dance, and design cohere in Sondheim's musicals and exploring influences on his art, both personal and cultural, his collaborators, and the historical and theatrical milieu. The students are reading libretti, listening to musical scores, seeing taped and live performances, researching production histories, and analyzing popular, critical, and scholarly reception.

“We are thrilled to have these discussions with this illustrious trio of amazing theater artists as part of our course,” notes Wolf, “And we are delighted to open up the discussions to the wider community, especially on such an important musical theater artist as Sondheim.”

John Weidman, former president of the Dramatists Guild of America, is a librettist who has written the book for several Tony Award-winning musicals, including the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, winner for Best Musical Revival, and Contact, winner of Best Musical. Since 1986, Weidman has written for Sesame Street, receiving more than a dozen Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Children’s Program. In collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, he wrote the libretto for Pacific Overtures, Assassins, and Road Show, which he will discuss in conversation with Wolf and her students on March 4. 

Guest artists who have lectured or taught master classes for the Music Theater Lab in the past include Jeffrey Seller, James Lapine, John Doyle, Marni Nixon, and Winnie Holzman, among others.

Stacy Wolf is a Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center, Director of the Princeton Atelier, and organizer of the Music Theater Lab. She is the author of Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical (2011) and A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical (2002), as well as the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of the American Musical (2011). Her manuscript-in-progress, Beyond Broadway: The American Musical at Community Theatres, High Schools, and Summer Camps, explores the vibrant, persistent presence of amateur musical theatre across the country.

The Music Theater Lab brings together students, faculty, and guest artists in the creation, study, and performance of music theater, including Broadway musicals, musical comedy, cabaret, music hall, operetta, singspiel, comic opera, grand opera, chamber opera, and experimental music theater. The Music Theater Lab supports and develops all forms of music theater --that is, any theatrical form that combines singing, acting, and movement -- as both an artistic practice and a field of scholarly study.

Related Information

Dramatists Guild "In the Room": John Weidman 

Event Information


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3:00 p.m.

Room 219 at 185 Nassau Street


Free and open to the public





Photo courtesy Dramatists Guild of America

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