A Minister’s Wife is a 2009 musical adaptation of Shaw’s 1895 “Pleasant” play Candida, and was conceived by Michael Halberstam, artistic director of the Illinois-based Writers’ Theatre. Halberstam’s rationale was to provide Shaw’s play with a contemporary sensibility, and the result—a single-act chamber musical version—is, perhaps inevitably, a more somber work than the original. This is partly the result of book writer Austin Pendleton’s decision to excise the comic character of Burgess. It also reflects the complex nature of composer Joshua Schmidt’s and lyricist Jan Levy Tranen’s score, which eschews conventional musical theater song structure for a mostly fragmented approach. In this analysis of the musical play’s unpublished score and book, the article examines the impact of the play’s compression of Candida’s dialogue, and the loss of Burgess, in particular, while arguing that the work’s music and lyrics faithfully delineate Shaw’s remaining characters and serve his thematic concerns.


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pp. 215-237
Launched on MUSE
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