Sex, Death, Dickens, and the Early American Musical

Laurence Senelick


This article argues that the stage version of Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop, adapted by John Brougham as Little Nell and the Marchioness, may be the first American book musical. Its enduring success was largely attributed to the performance of Lotta Crabtree in the dual roles from 1866 onwards. If the status of the play is justified, then it may require some scholarly re-visioning of the early history of the American musical.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303