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One From Column A...
by "The Real A"

September 29, 1997 - #2

Well, The Real A has had a very busy week doing, well, whatever The Real A does. First off, thanks to all of you who have had such kind words about the new column. And to the two people who didn't, well, The Real A will be nice, just this once. As to the "self absorbed" comment, you might want to check out the title of the column.

So much going on in the world of musical theater. The big news, of course, is that Cats is still running. Here's a blind item:

What musical revival, entitled 1776, may not be making the transfer that everyone presumes it will be making? Too many details unresolved, and it is very much undecided at this time.

Enough gossip. The Real A doesn't like gossip... But first...

What major Broadway diva is being a big pain in the rear end to everyone involved in her new show?

The Real A heard from both Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Webber (they both loved the column!) and now, wouldn't you know, they've got a songwriting war going on!

Mr. Webber sent this:

Stephen Sondheim,
Can't you see I hate him.
Critics always
Tend to overrate him.
Phantom is a smash,
I make lots and lots of cash,
While Assassins plays Off-Broadway and then dies...
And Passion is so dead it's drawing flies.

And then, Mr. Sondheim wrote:

Careful the things you write,
Andrew will steal them.
Play some Puccini now,
Listen and hear
Those notes...
Like Music Of The Night,
Now, where have we heard that?
How does the law allow,
The music he "quotes"
To use free and clear...

Writers had best be bright,
They'd better fear...
Andrew will listen...

Boy, this is a feud! I hope they both take some Lithium and calm down!

I'd now like to take this opportunity to answer some of the many questions that people sent in this past week:

Laura wanted to know what song the Cats parody was from. That would be "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" from Follies.

Sean wonders if the public will be able to get tickets to the upcoming Woods reunion concert. The answer is yes, there will be limited tickets available, but you will have to move fast, as there will be rabid, drooling Sondheim fanatics snapping them up.

Kristine wanted to know what the big deal was about Stephen Sondheim and what was so special about his music. This is not an easy question to answer, matters of taste never are. You'd have to be more specific about what you've heard. All I can suggest is that you give it another try. Sondheim takes some getting use to, if you're new to him. I would suggest starting with shows like Company, Follies, A Little Night Music or Into The Woods first.

Janet, from the UK, asks what Sondheim's next show is and will it get to the UK. The new show is called Wise Guys. It will first play the Kennedy Center in Washington in late summer of 1998 (it was supposed to play there previously, but the show wasn't ready). Presuming it goes well, it would then move to Broadway. And whether it is a hit or a miss, it will probably come to the UK anyway, as did Assassins and Passion.

V.J. (of Talkin' Broadway - a great site) asks what is the best recorded version of "I'm Still Here" from Follies. He prefers Millicent Martin's on Side By Side By Sondheim. I like it too, but still love Yvonne De Carlo's on the OBC (even though it's abridged).

I think if Lauren Bacall ever records the song we will have the definitive version. Steve could even adapt the lyric for her:

I've worked with Barbra Streisand
And I'm here.

On a similar note, Rob asks what the A's preferences are regarding Sondheim recordings. The A loves most of the OBCs, most especially Anyone Can Whistle, Company, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Pacific Overtures. The London albums are a mixed bag, some are okay, and some are way too weird. I'm fond of a lot of the compilation and concert recordings.

CDebussy (as soon as I get a note from your pal Ravel my life will have meaning) asks why there is a musical "quote" from "Take Me To The World" in the beginning of Dawn Upshaw's version of "There Won't Be Trumpets." Bad arranging, that would be my guess.

Also, to the many people who asked about the A's identity, stay tuned for next week's column.

Here's a little question for Sondheim trivia experts:

We know that Sondheim wrote a musical film with the author and screenwriter William Goldman called Singing Out Loud. The movie remains unfilmed as of now. But thirty years ago, Sondheim wrote a song for a proposed film version of a William Goldman novel (also unfilmed). What was the name of the novel?

Send all guesses to me at And keep those cards and letters coming!

Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...

Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.

The Real A

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Recently Overheard...
Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...”
- Mark Bakalor

Follow the thread...

“I found [the Sondheim Celebration's Company] to be completely delightful. Almost all of the numbers excited and energized me, and most of the scenes were about as pitch-perfect as you can get. I just sat there with a big smile on my face the whole show.

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- popcornonmyknees

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Music, Books & More
Elaine Stritch
With three hand-held cameras, one major theatrical milestone and nearly nineteen hours of footage, this rare and intimate look with Original Cast Album - Company is a must for any Sondheim fan.

DVD: $26.96
VHS: $24.95

One of Sondheim's most beloved works is sure to be Sunday in the Park with George, available on DVD, video tape, and CD.

CD: $13.99
DVD: $25.49
VHS: $19.98

Nathan Lane
All Sondheim completists are sure to now own the first complete recording of The Frogs coupled with Evening Primrose. Do you?

CD: $18.97

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