Musical Theatre, Sondheim, Lapine, Sunday in the Park with George, Braggart Soldier, Actor's Process


In preparation for performance, an actor must develop an understanding for the character they portray. A character must be thoroughly researched to adequately enrich the performance of the actor. In preparation for the role of the "Soldier" in the production, Sunday in the Park with George, it is important to examine the evolution of the "Braggart Soldier" archetypal character throughout the historical literary canon. It is also of equal importance to study an author's canon of literature to acknowledge the reoccurring use of similar archetypal characters in order to successfully interpret the intentions of the author. This thesis paper will be divided into four main sections. First, research of the evolution of the "Braggart Soldier" archetypal character from Greek Theater to Contemporary Theater will help to define the character type. Second, historical production research associated with the musical's creation will also provide a deeper insight into the musical's inception. Sunday in the Park with George was based on the painting A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Furthermore, a specific focus will be placed on the painting's creation, the background of the Soldier's inclusion in the painting, the musical's collaborative process, and critical responses of the original production. Third, research of four other Stephen Sondheim shows in which similar archetypal characters appear will demonstrate the author's utilization of the character type. The characters referenced from Sondheim's shows will be: Miles Gloriosus from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Carl Magnus from A Little Night Music; The Princes from Into the Woods; and John Wilkes Booth from Assassins. By studying the scripts and scores of each of these shows, a pattern of character traits will be revealed to enlighten the actor's preparation for the role of the "Soldier" in Sunday in the Park with George. Lastly, an understanding of the musical's overall structure and themes helps to further define the characterization revealed from script and score analysis. This thesis project will contribute to the pre-existing canon of musical theatre research but will also provide insight to non-musical actors who are researching similar archetypal characters. Musical theatre performers who are preparing for Stephen Sondheim shows can apply this research to help understand the role of this archetypal character in the context of each show.


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Graduation Date





Weaver, Earl


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program









Release Date

May 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)