Who is Stephen Sondheim?
Stephen Joshua Sondheim is a composer / lyricist for the
musical theatre who has also dabbled in teaching, screen
writing, composing film scores, creating crossword puzzles
for New York Magazine, and authoring plays. He was born
on March 22, 1930 and is alive and actively pursuing his
career. He has never been married and he has no children.
His parents divorced when he was rather young, and he
grew up in rural Pennsylvania with his mother. He became
very close to a neighboring family, the Hammersteins.
Oscar Hammerstein II (of the songwriting team Rodgers
and Hammerstein) became a surrogate father to young
Sondheim. It was through Oscar Hammerstein II that
Sondheim first became involved in theatre, although he
later said that he so looked up to Hammerstein that he
"would have become a geologist if Oscar had been a
He attended the George School, where he wrote his first
musical, By George,
parodying the school's denizens. He
proudly showed the script to his mentor and asked him to
review it as if it was a musical written by a stranger.
Hammerstein reviewed it and pronounced it the worst thing
he had ever read. He said it wasn't untalented, just bad,
and he proceeded to go through the script line by line with
Sondheim. Sondheim has said that he learned more about
writing musicals in that one afternoon than most people
learn in a lifetime. Hammerstein then outlined a course of
studies for Sondheim, having him write four musicals in
order to learn the craft. Sondheim complied, working on
this project throughout his years at Williams College, where
he majored in music, a choice greatly influenced by a
sensational music professor named Robert Barrow. After his
years at Williams, Sondheim went to New York to study
music with Milton Babbitt.
Sondheim's professional life began as the composer/lyricist
for the musical
which was to be produced by Lemuel Ayers. Unfortunately, the
show ran into a slew of problems and was left unproduced.
After Saturday Night
was disbanded, Sondheim happened to run into Arthur
Laurents at a party (they had met previously when
Sondheim had auditioned to write songs for a
musicalization of James M. Cain's Serenade). Laurents
mentioned that he, Jerome Robbins, and Leonard Bernstein
were adapting Romeo and Juliet, but they didn't have a
lyricist. Laurents invited Sondheim to audition for
Bernstein. Although Sondheim was disappointed that his
first professional job would be writing only the lyrics, he
accepted the position. The rest is history...
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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
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.
Which is not to say that it is perfect...
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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.
Sondheim's most beloved works is sure to be Sunday in the Park with George, available on DVD, video tape, and CD.
All Sondheim completists are sure to now own the first complete recording of The Frogs coupled with Evening Primrose. Do you?
Browse additional merchandise...