Stephen Sondheim Is Still Alive And Turns 90 Years Old Today
March 22, 2020 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I hope the headline didn't stop anyone's heart. Here's a video from Playbill of Broadway stars wishing Stephen a happy birthday (~10m). It includes Mandy Patinkin bark-howling the song.
posted by hippybear (18 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I hope the headline didn't stop anyone's heart.

The headline does sound a little like a 50s B-movie. Sondheim is STILL ALIVE, horribly, in a vat of saline solution, telepathically bending minds to his will.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:42 AM on March 22, 2020

On The Genius Of Stephen Sondheim (National Review, medium read)

'His songs are like a fabulous steak': an all-star toast to Stephen Sondheim (Guardian, medium read)
posted by hippybear at 10:43 AM on March 22, 2020

Also, the Sondheim-approved track No One Is Alone from the upcoming release Losing My Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream. (track embedded in webpage)
posted by hippybear at 10:47 AM on March 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

And for those of us who aren't quite ready for a Sondheim Disco Fever Dream, Not While I’m Around, Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown on piano, sung by Katrina Lenk. Recorded about 9 months ago, at a benefit for United Against Gun Violence.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:13 AM on March 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Heh. My husband loves Sondheim but can't stand Mandy Patinkin, so this is causing much sturm und drang around here at the moment.

Thank you for posting this, because for the first time perhaps ever I beat him to something from Playbill!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:50 AM on March 22, 2020

My world would be vastly different if Sondheim were not in it. I carry several of his shows around in my heart in various ways. He's a touchstone for creative expression, and his wit and insight have helped me discover depths within myself both through searching and at unexpected moments.

He's currently working on a musical based on two Buñuel films. I trust and pray that he will get to finish it. I could use a good new injection of Sondheim in my life.
posted by hippybear at 12:14 PM on March 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

I feel so lucky to be alive when Sondheim is, to get to take in so many of his utterly amazing creations. I've had the great good fortune to see live productions of A Little Night Music, Assassins, Into the Woods, Company, and Sweeney Todd, along with the excellent filmed productions of Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George and multiple filmed versions of Company.

The John Doyle production of Sweeney Todd (where all the singers ALSO play all the instruments, onstage) blew my mind. Sondheim's genius takes a demented man doing horrific things and makes him comprehensible even to someone like me: I'm determinedly optimistic and generally shy away from dark artistic works, but when Sweeney - who's lost his deeply beloved wife and daughter to an outrageously corrupt judge, and then lost years of his life after being framed and sent to a penal colongy - sings
we all deserve to die
Even you, Mrs. Lovett, even I

Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief!
For the rest of us, death will be a relief
We all deserve to die!
I just GOT it, so viscerally - not "we all deserve to die because we're all scum and worthless," but rather "we all deserve to die - because death will stop the crimes of the wicked, and will mean the rest of us don't have to suffer our terrible, unbearable grief anymore."


(I mean, I disagree with his previous rhyme, that "There are two kinds of men and only two", but just - to bring Sweeney's pain so alive ... that's a hell of a thing.)

And I'm grateful to Mandy; it was through his Dress Casual album that I learned about Evening Primrose and got to hear Bernadette Peters's splendid I Remember, and his Oscar & Steve has the sublime Poems.

Happy birthday, Steve - and thanks for posting this, hippybear!
posted by kristi at 12:22 PM on March 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

The 92nd Street Y just posted a 1971 talk by Sondheim on lyrics and lyric writing. So articulate, self-deprecating, and inspiring -- and two plus hours!
posted by How the runs scored at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Fresh Air interviewed Sondheim in 2010 for his 80th birthday. He is full of insight and distinct musical thoughts, and is charming and delightful.
posted by hippybear at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm registering my approval of the title, thank you for the lack of heart attack.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:06 PM on March 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Stephen Sondheim is probably the most important person in my life that I've never met. He taught me how to feel. When I was closed off, afraid of emotions, I learned to love his tapes and sang along. All the emotions were there: love, loss, fury, longing, joy. Great operatic feelings that helped me through break-ups and lonely times. He helped me lose myself and find myself.

Because of his verses I have stubbornly written rhyming, rhythmic poetry when everyone serious in poetry treats that as some sort of childish venture.

Happy birthday.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:16 PM on March 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thanks to Mr Sondheim, in his Sunday in the Park with George, I gained a real insight into what art was all about, when Seurat sings (my paraphrase) “I made a hat / Where there wasn’t a hat.” Simple, direct, and at least for me, profound. Happy Birthday!
posted by njohnson23 at 4:36 PM on March 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who worked directly with Sondheim on Spanish lyrics for the 2009 revival of West Side Story, quotes "Look I made a hat" to Sondheim in his 2008 Tony Award acceptance speech (Best Score for "In the Heights").
posted by kristi at 4:59 PM on March 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

In the spirit of the fact that both Angela Lansbury and Sondheim are still quite happily with us:

The Worst Pies in London
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:59 PM on March 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

One of the best people on the planet.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:03 PM on March 22, 2020

This is what I needed today. I hope he enjoys it as well.
posted by blurker at 12:08 PM on March 24, 2020

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