Abstract

Critics have long noted the association between the Broadway musical and gay men as both producers and consumers. But rather than claim that musicals are gay, lesbian, or queer, this essay analyzes the circulation of desire in the work of two composer-lyricists, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim, by focusing on their mastery of the list or catalog song, a form that requires only that its lyric contains an inventory of people, places, or things. The essay argues that the list song functions as a kind of desiring-machine, an assembly line of words that represents a musical consequence and signature of the Fordist means of production. The list songs of Porter and Sondheim, which herald the beginning and end of Broadway’s so-called Golden Age, divulge in their differing ways the contrasting sets of desires and anxieties that swirl around the closet—and the Broadway musical—in the decades before and after the Stonewall riots.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 533-548
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-03
Open Access
No
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