Who is Stephen Sondheim?
Stephen Sondheim is the most influential composer and lyricist to have an effect on the form of the musical to date. Having written the lyrics for West Side Story at the beginning of his career, Sondheim has gone on to develop the most intricate and meaningful musicals through his collaborations with Hal Prince, James Lapine and many others. His musicals have not always been commercial hits (see Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along), but they have made a gigantic impact on the ‘musical’ . Having been mentored by Oscar Hammerstein, Sondheim’s musicals gave meaning to the form, showing the complexity and issues that can be dealt with in a musical without sugar coating any of the issues he tackles, whilst always bringing something new to the form with each musical he has written.
Why do I want to explore Sondheim?
Why wouldn’t I want to explore Sondheim?! The man is a god in the theatre industry. He has revolutionised the musical.
Viewpoints that could be taken:
Historian, Theatregoer, Journalist, Actor, Director, Set Designer, Producer, Lyricist, Composer
Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat.
These books are written by Sondheim, in them he explains and explores his shows and lyrics.
Art Isn’t Easy: The Theater Of Stephen Sondheim
Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions [Hardcover]
Stephen Sondheim: A Life
The Guardian: Sondheim Articles
Time Out: Stephen Sondheim: Interview
The Paris review: Stephen Sondheim, The Art of the Musical
Academy of Achievement: Sondheim Interview
The Guardian: Stephen Sondheim: A life in music
Stage & Screen Online: Stephen Sondheim – In Conversation
Documentary: Six By Sondheim
9th December 2013 – HBO
Six by Sondheim is an HBO television documentary which pays tribute to Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The film was directed and co-produced by James Lapine, based on an idea by Frank Rich and “centers on the backstory of six great Sondheim songs.”
Original air date: 25 April 2010
Stephen Sondheim is interviewed at home in Manhattan, for The South Bank Show Revisited on the eve of his 80th birthday.
Stephen Sondheim Interview
Stephen Sondheim talks about his early life and creative process with reference to his many award winning Broadway shows.
Documentary: South Bank Show – Sweeney Todd – Original London Cast (1980)
Another channel link
Good Youtube Channel for actor interviews
A Conversation with Stephen Sondheim
Into the Woods – MTI Conversation Piece with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
Merrily We Roll Along
What is ‘Merrily We Roll’ Along About?
Lasting only 52 previews and 16 performances upon its first staging, Merrily We Roll Along was probably the biggest commercial ‘flop’ that personally affected Sondheim. A tale of three friends and their path of success and failure through life and their chosen careers, the musical folds out in reverse, leaving the audience on a high through the character’s innocence and naivety displayed in the last scene featuring the song ‘Our Time’. A cautionary tale form Sondheim, when originally staged, it came to the point where the actors had to wear T-shirts so that audiences knew who they were playing and the time-frame it was set. With the libretto reworked after it closed, this musical’s most recent revival on the West End last year garnered the most five star reviews for any West End musical in history.
InDepth InterView: Maria Friedman Talks MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG From Stage To Screen; Plus, Sondheim Comments!
Time Out: Stephen Sondheim: ‘any tune is a hit if you play it enough’
The Telegraph: Still cutting it at 80: Stephen Sondheim interview
The Independent: Stephen Sondheim: An audience with a theatre legend
Digital Theatre: Merrily We Roll Along interviews
The Guardian: Maria Friedman: ‘We made Stephen Sondheim cry’
Indie Wire: Maria Friedman Talks Directing Merrily We Roll Along
Broadway.com: Mark Umbers on Daring to Be ‘Vile’ as Franklin in the London Revival of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along
Side by Side with Sondheim (Long Interview, Multiple Topics)
The Guardian: Sondheim and the art of revival: how a show that first flops becomes a hit
Six by Sondheim: Opening Doors
2013 West End Revival: The Blob
Broadway.com: Encores! 2012 Coverage
Interesting for Actor P.O.V
Merrily We Roll Along – West End Trailer (Extended Version)
Good for Creative Process
What is ‘Company’ About?
“Company is a musical comedy based on a book by George Furth with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six.
Originally titled Threes, its plot revolves around Bobby (a single man unable to commit fully to a steady relationship, let alone marriage), the five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends.Unlike most book musicals, which follow a clearly delineated plot, Company is a concept musical ( a show where the metaphor or statement is more important than the narrative)composed of short vignettes, presented in no particular chronological order, linked by a celebration for Bobby’s 35th birthday.
Company was among the first musicals to deal with adult themes and relationships. As Sondheim puts it, “Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.”” (Wikipedia)
Why this musical?
One of the first musicals that introduced me to the work of Sondheim, I think its intelligent wit, humour and emotional depth that is slowly revealed is why I would want to explore this musical. One of Sondheim’s first collaborations where he wrote both the lyrics and music, I think it is one of his works where even though the comments he are making seem prominent and exposed, there is so much more he is saying which you have to read into.
The Guardian: Stephen Sondheim working on a ‘gay’ version of Company
The Telegraph: Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’: Can it work in the 21st Century?
Comments on the 2011 Revival in Southwark
NPR: Stephen Colbert: In Good ‘Company’ On Broadway
ASCAP: A Conversation with Stephen Sondheim(2007)
Clip: What did I just do?
Use if chosen for essay
Documentary: Company: Making of the Original Cast Recording
Show: Elaine Stritch At Liberty (2002)
Contains memories of staging Company
Stephen Sondheim on Company
An interview from BBC with Sondheim and Sam Mendes
Sondheim teaches ‘Not Getting Married’ from Company
Stephen Sondheim teaches students from the Guildhall School
Company starring Neil Patrick Harris 2011