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by Daryl Wallis

So, you think you know your Sondheim trivia? You think you know just about everything there is to know about the man and his works, do you? This is the place for you. Before you go on too much longer here, make sure you're ready to buckle down and spend some time, for if you are to succeed with these, you will have to rely on more than you're keen sense of Sondheim trivia to allow you to prevail in the end!

The time is March in the year 2000, the place New York City. To celebrate the impending 70th birthday of SS the city is throwing a festival whereby every Sondheim show is being revived and which culminates in a gala concert performance on Mar 22. To ensure your tickets to the gala concert you have also booked a package deal of eight Sondheim shows leading up to the concert. (ie. one show a night from March 14 - 21). While your ticket to the gala concert is being held at the theatre, the remaining tickets were sent to you as a separate order.

As you settle into your hotel room on the morning of the 14th, you decide to take out your ticket for tonight's performance only to discover...horror of horrors...that all of your thermal printed tickets have completely faded during the trip to NY! You can't remember which shows you were going to on which night, nor what your seat numbers are for each show! In a panic you head for the nearest ticket agency only to find the streets in the grip of Sondheimania. You have to queue for an hour amongst desperate Sondheim fans before you can speak to a flustered box office staff member. They say- "I'm terribly sorry, but unless you can give me exact dates and seat numbers I cannot reissue any tickets. Because your tickets have already been sent to you, I need to key in exact locations for verification. The only information I can give you is the seat number check sum figures that correspond with a booking made in your name. If you can come back to me this afternoon with the correct shows, dates and seat locations I will gladly reprint your tickets for you". And with that the mob swarms around you, angry at your time wasting activity that prevents them from trying to obtain the last tickets for an additional performance of The Frogs in the lake in Central Park.

You are left shattered on the sidewalk, clutching a computer printout which is the only thing connecting you to the week of Sondheimagic ahead.

           Seat Number Check Sum Print Out     Ref#32230

                    X +9 -12 +6 -13 +16 +7 -19

       NY 2000 - SS Fest - Please dispose of thoughtfully :)
[Definition - the check sum figures correspond with the numerical difference between a sequence of seat numbers in an order. eg if four tickets were ordered E45 S55 T30 Z14, the check sum figures would be printed thus X +10 -25 -16 ]

"Blow out the candles, Robert, and make a wish"

Part One

The first task is to work out the correct seat numbers in your order. Seats are numbered from 1 to 100 for the festival. Once you find the correct value for X you will be able to produce a sequence of eight numbers which correspond to seat numbers in your order.

SS Birthday Clue #1- One of the numbers corresponds with Amy's comprehensive collection of candle holders.

SS Birthday Clue #2- One of the numbers can be found by adding the length of Giorgio's sick leave to the number of minae required for that pretty little picture.

SS Birthday Clue #3 - One other number can be found by multiplying the numbers in the time signature at the beginning of Send in the Clowns, and then dividing this number by how many it takes.

"Me I'm a hundred
You, you're a blessing"

Part Two

Through some sort of strange twist of fate (!), this sequence of numbers will also tell you which shows you are due to see. Find out what the relationship is between the numbers and Sondheim shows to work out which eight shows your tickets are for.

"Died in a barn, in pain and bitter,
Twenty seven years of age"

Part Three

The next part of your task lies in finding out what rows you are sitting in at each show. Rows have been ordered A - Z for the festival. As luck would have it, one of the letters in the title of each show is the row you are sitting in for that show. Looking at the titles still in their seat number order, find a pattern that selects one letter from each title, and that those letters can then be structured into a word that verifies your booking details.

"Did somebody paint you like that,
Or is it your birthday too?"

Part Four

The last part involves confirming the dates for which you are to attend each show. In ordering the titles, and their matching seat and row numbers, in the same order as your verification word you can then match them to corresponding dates from the 14 - 21 March. With this information you will be able to give the box office the complete details of your order for reissuing of tickets. But remember, time is pressing. Reports have already filtered back of riot police being called to the Metropolitan Museum to control the crowd waiting for any returns for tonight's performance of Sunday in the Park With George which makes use of the actual Seurat paintings!

"You've got one little trip,
Seventy years,
Spread it around!"

All done? Check the answers!

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