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.

chapter 1|22 pages


Shakespeare as jukebox musical

section Section 1|1 pages

Historical forebears

section Section 2|1 pages

Reception and structure

chapter 4|36 pages

Song placement and the carnivalesque

Barrie Kosky’s King Lear, and the Troubadour Theater Company

chapter 5|26 pages

Layered allusions, genre and medium

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet

section Section 3|1 pages

Modes of reception

chapter 6|28 pages

The Shakespearean jukebox musical as interrogative text

Kenneth Branagh’s Love’s Labour’s Lost

section Section 4|1 pages

Engaging with Twelfth Night’s unstable identities

chapter 7|26 pages

Play On! and its ghosts

chapter 9|8 pages