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  • Scott Williamson

Look, I Made a Hat...

This Tuesday Temple Emanuel hosted our 4th presentation of Jewish Music in the 20th century. We spent the evening in the company of Stephen Sondheim.

Sondheim's artistic "creed" from Sunday in the Park with George

We started with the engaging beginning of HBO's documentary "Six by Sondheim" which finds the middle-aged composer in mid-interview replying to an unheard question, "I like neurotic people..."

We talked about and/or listened to just a handful of the dozens of his genre-redefining contributions to the American Songbook.

Broadway Musical Lyrics:

West Side Story (1957, Bernstein), Gypsy (1959, Styne), Do I hear a Waltz? (1964, Rodgers)

Steve and Lenny

Lyrics and Music:

Saturday Night (1954): A Moment With You, So Many People, What More Do I Need?

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962): Comedy Tonight, Love, I Hear

Anyone Can Whistle (1964): There Won’t Be Trumpets, Everybody Says Don’t

Company (1970): Little Things You Do Together , Ladies Who Lunch, Not Getting Married, Being Alive

Follies (1971): Broadway Baby, Losing My Mind, I’m still here, Could I Leave You, I'm Still Here

Ballad of Lucy and Jessie

A Little Night Music (1973): Now/Later/Soon, Weekend in the Country, Miller’s Son,

Send in the Clowns

The Frogs (1974, 2004): Invocation and Instructions to the Audience

Pacific Overtures (1976): Poems, Chrysanthemum Tea, Pretty Lady, Someone in a Tree

Sweeney Todd (1979): Johanna, My Friends, A Little Priest, Not While I’m Around

Sondheim and Lansbury

Given how prodigiously successful the 70's were for Sondheim, it's unsurprising even some of his friends and colleagues turned against his next "concept" musical, the ahead-of-its-time "retro" drama, Merrily We Roll Along. Check out "Opening Doors" in "Six By Sondheim" and wait for the cameo by the composer (singing the role originally created by Jason Alexander back in 1981). There's also a fabulous recent recording of a 2012 concert production featuring Hamilton creator, Lin Manuel Miranda as Charley.

Merrily We Roll Along (1981): Franklin Shepherd Inc., Opening Doors, Not a Day Goes By

Sunday in the Park with George (1984): Everybody Loves Louis, Finishing the Hat, Move On, Sunday

Into the Woods (1987): Giants in the Sky, The Steps of the Palace, Move On, No One is Alone

Assassins (1990): Ballad of Booth, Unworthy of Your Love, Another National Anthem

Passion (1994): Happiness, I read, I wish I could forget you

Wise Guys (1998-99) / Bounce (2003) / Road Show (2008) [“A Saga in Four Acts” – SS]

In addition to "Six By Sondheim" we also discussed the fabulous "80th Birthday Celebration" (from Lincoln Center with the NYPO: see the link above for Patti Lupone's meta "Ladies who Lunch" - in a lineup which includes Elaine Stritch, who created that searing hit back in 1970, along with Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, Audra McDonald, and of blessed memory - so recent, too soon - Marin Mazzie. If you want the greatest and rawest "live" sequence of Sondheim's torch songs, start there.)

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