In early March of this year, the New York City Philharmonic staged what initially seemed like a restrained concert of Stephen Sondheim's musical “Sweeney Todd.” Per the New York Times review : "The director, Lonny Price, started the evening with a wink toward the formalities of classical concertizing, as the cast of principals lined up in front of music stands at the lip of the stage, clad in tuxedos and staid dresses, binders in hand, as if they were about to sing a little Schubert. Oh dear." But then . . . [more inside]
Laura Benanti dresses up as Fosca from Stephen Sondheim's Passion, and joins the other unauthorized mascots in Times Square.
Anatomy of a Song (1976) is a half hour documentary (part two here) about Stephen Sondheim's song Someone in a Tree, from the musical Pacific Overtures. Sondheim talks about the challenges and thought processes behind what he calls his favourite of his own songs. See the original 1976 show in full here. Also see this earlier post on the same song.
As he sings, the walls of the apartment begin to move off, and the city walls surrounding them begin to close in on them. Then the apartment it self goes, and the two lovers begin to run, battering against the walls of the city, beginning to break through as chaotic figures of the gangs, of violence, fail around them. But they do break through, and suddenly-they are in a world of space and air and sun. They stop, looking at it, pleased, startled, as boys and girls both sides come on. And they, too, stop and stare, happy, pleased. Their clothes are soft and pastel versions of what they have worn before. They begin to dance, to play: no sides, no hostility now; join, making a world that Tony and Maria want to be in, belong to, share their love with. As they go into the steps of a gentle love dance, a voice is heard singing. [more inside]
It Ain't Necessarily "Porgy". Director Diane Paulus is turning The Gershwins' (and DuBose Heyward's) Porgy & Bess from an opera into a commercial Broadway musical, with a more upbeat ending. Stephen Sondheim takes issue with this bold reinterpretation. [more inside]
Apparently there is a Sondheim fan on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic staff. The Art of the Dress versus Putting it Together (starts at 4:55) from Sunday in the Park with George (or Barbra Streisand's arrangement). At the Gala versus Ever After from Into the Woods. Ponies previously: 1 2 3
Stephen Sondheim's crossword puzzles for "New York Magazine." Incredibly rare.
Two musical masters impart their knowledge: Stephen Sondheim teaches students from the Guildhall School of Music: "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music (more), "My Friends" from Sweeney Todd, "Later" from A Little Night Music, and "Not Getting Married" from Company. Leonard Bernstein gives his lectures titled "The Unanswered Question" at Harvard (the full series on DVD here), speaks about Mahler's 9th, rehearses "Rite of Spring" with a youth orchestra (2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and performs "Journey into Jazz" (a "Peter and the Wolf" kind of story, but for jazz instead of classical music).
Finally available on CD is the Original Cast Recording of Sondheim's Evening Primrose. Although other recordings of the score have been made available, this is the first time that the original cast will be heard on a publically released recording. [more inside]
Quick, before Tim Burton's "re-imagining dark gems of the 1970s" spree continues with the film version that will obliterate all recollection of the original musical thriller's style! Check out 1982's Emmy-winning televised performance of Sweeney Todd, with George Hearn and the inimitable Angela Lansbury. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15. Or, just skip to the highlights, A Little Priest, Epiphany. Also, check out the style of the inventive, minimalist revival or read the original penny dreadful!
"Someone in a Tree" -- an incedibly rare video from the original, 1976 production of "Pacific Overtures." I grew up listening to an L.P. of these same people perform this same song, but I've never before seen them perform it. I grew up in Southern Indiana, so actually seeing a Broadway show was out of the question. But I loved this song, and -- years later -- I read that it was Stephen Sondheim's favorite of all the songs he ever wrote. Today, I found this video on YouTube and it was like finally seeing someone after being blind for years. I still have chills running up and down my spine. Also: Sondheim forum, online journal, and various gems (and bombs) on youtube -- including the man himself teaching a master class and this 12-year-old's spirited performance!
There's Always Something There To Remind You of a Burt Bacharach or a Stephen Sondheim song. [Do check out this MeFi thread where our own MarkB mentions his work on the Sondheim website.] Burt turned 74 this month, Steve was 73 in March. Must we wait until they die before celebrating the genius of American popular music's two greatest living composers? [ And isn't it appropriate that Elvis Costello is the most recent composer to receive the ASCAP Founders' Award which previously honoured Bacharach and Sondheim?]
The Roundabout Theater postpones its Assassins revival. This was probably the right decision, though for those who know the show--and that might not be many--it happens to address better than most things all the issues our country is currently facing. Check out Sondheim.com where they've changed the page to simple text featuring perfectly fitting lyrics for the moment we're in.