Stephen Sondheim!

Discussion of musicals other than Les Misérables.
User avatar
Roses for Ophelia
Posts: 486
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:14 am
Location: in my head
Contact:

Stephen Sondheim!

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:56 pm

So...where are the Stephen Sondheim fans? I am obsessed with his musicals; i'm pretty sure he's the greatest composer in the history of mankind, except MAYBE Cole Porter! I saw 'Sondheim on Sondheim' today (Barbara Cook was in it! And Norm Lewis!) and i cried at least twice! So i've got Sondheim on the brain. Any other fans of the great man here?
Rivers belong where they can ramble...

User avatar
MmeBahorel
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:12 am
Location: Washington, DC
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:30 am

I worship at the altar of Sondheim :) Was just at a cabaret last night that reminded me how much I adore Merrily We Roll Along and Pacific Overtures. I just had Sweeney Todd this spring, brilliant production, and will get Follies next season (and Side by Side by Sondheim, but that doesn't really count, IMO). I keep hoping Eric will finally do Passion again because I think that's the only chance I'll have to see it. (Eric Schaeffer is considered one of the foremost interpreters of Sondheim's work, and he puts a Sondheim show into every season, and eventually he has to do Sunday and Passion again, since the Kennedy Center Sondheim Festival in the summer of 2002 was the last time those works were seen in this area - he's directed Sweeney Todd three times, and honestly, I would love him to hand over Sunday to Joe Calarco. But this gets into the minutia of the DC theatre scene far too much for anyone else to understand *g*.)

But Sunday in the Park with George has to be one of my favourite shows ever. I sob my way through it every time, and I'm so lucky that "every time" has meant two (well, three, if you count the NY transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production) productions and I think six viewings all told. It just isn't done as often as some of the others. (I've seen six productions of Sweeney Todd and loved them all, even the cracked out one with the ensemble doing interpretive dance during Green Finch and Linnet Bird. Because it was Sweeney, and it's hard to completely kill a script that brilliant.)

Ok, "worship" is an exaggeration. I actually saw Bounce (the new one that is now being called Road Show) - it was not good. It was, in fact, actively bad. I'm not sure it was even fixable, so I've been totally avoiding it ever since.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

User avatar
Roses for Ophelia
Posts: 486
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:14 am
Location: in my head
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:56 am

Yay! Bounce, in my opinion,was INDEED fixable--as Roadshow is actually quite good. I saw it once,and enjoyed it. It's still not Sunday in the Park, but 'bad' Sondheim is better than 'good' a-lot-of-people. you should get the roadshow soundtrack--it definatly has a couple of good songs in it.

As for Sunday....let's see... i cry during 'finishing the hat' i cry during ' we do not belong togehter' i cry during ' sunday' (every time, without fail, both the act 1 closer and the act 2 closer. especially when they all bow to george! gets me every time) I cry when georges says ' i cannot be a good father to marie because i cannot look up from my pad.' i cry during ' beautiful' i cry during 'move on'....i cry during most of the show.

i've actually only seen a few actual sondheim productions--basically whatever comes to broadway. we new york theater people are spoiled. because broadway is within our grasp, we often don't do the digging and see regional productions and the like. however if follies is in DC i might have to travel to see it, since it's a truth universally acknoledgd that follies will not--and can not--ever be revived correctly, so it will most likely never be revived.

Oh, and speaking of worship, did you know there is a song in Sondheim on Sondheim called 'god?' pretty funny song! the play's closing soon,but teh soundtrack is being released!
Rivers belong where they can ramble...

User avatar
ivrogne transfiguré
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:23 pm

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby ivrogne transfiguré » Sun Jun 27, 2010 1:55 am

I must admit that I'm not a massive Sondheim fan. Not in the sense that I don't like his work - the little I know of it, I think is really good - I'm just not much of a musical theatre person in general, so I don't know much of it.
However, I have recently discovered Passion (and yes, predictably enough it is because David Thaxton has been cast as Giorgio in the production opening in September at the Donmar in London :oops: ), and I love it a lot. There's a lot of depth and complexity in the score, and I find myself noticing new things each time I listen to it. I realise it's not his most popular by far - it seems to get a lot of criticism for not having any good tunes - but the music just works so seamlessly and really complements the book, and I can't wait to see it performed on stage.

User avatar
MmeBahorel
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:12 am
Location: Washington, DC
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:55 am

I know, I love the score of Passion, but my only experience is really with the OLC recording.

I actually think I'm pretty spoiled living in DC - thanks to Eric Schaeffer, I'm guaranteed one Sondheim show every season at the very least, and i'm in reasonable travel distance if anything interesting comes along on the East Coast (and yes, I flew to London for a weekend, back when I had money, in order to see the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Sunday in the Park with George before it transferred to the West End).

There's no shame in discovering shows based on cast - my first Sondheim was Assassins, and I was given the cast recording by a friend who was a fellow Jérôme Pradon fan. She gave it to me because she knew I was curious about the show since he had been in a production in the UK (as Czolgosz, which turned out lucky for me because Czolgosz is my favourite character). Love at first listen. I got Sweeney next, then Sunday, then finally got to see a production of Assassins at my uni, followed by a production of Company (and never could settle on which cast recording to buy), then two productions of Sweeney, a production of Sunday, acquired the NT recording of A Little Night Music and fell in love, Passion came around the same time, Into the Woods a bit before - I really spent uni delving into Sondheim as much as possible.

I was lucky enough to be at closing night for Assassins on Broadway, but I think I prefer Joe Calarco's production for Signature Theatre here in DC - his set was rather meta level (a definite reference to a bit of the Cookie Chase in Anyone Can Whistle), and it was just so delightfully intimate and really pulled the audience in, and it just felt so much more personal (and of the three productions I've seen, he was the best at making Something Just Broke work). Of course, Calarco is the guy who did the production of Side Show where the twins weren't attached, so while I desperately want him to do Sunday because he will come up with something potentially off the wall and brilliant, I fully acknowledge that the idea could be less than brilliant. (the Side Show production was apparently hit and miss - some scenes worked better than others.)

I'm so jealous over Donmar productions, though - killed me that I had to miss Pacific Overtures with their cast (it was a transfer from Chicago Shakespeare, but I was living in London when Chicago Shakes did it, and by the time I realised I was going to be home during the extension, I ended up unable to go anyway), and now I'm having to miss Passion, and they did Merrily We Roll Along with Daniel Evans and Julian Ovenden, both of whom I utterly adore. Menier is doing brilliant things, too - love their space and wish I could have seen A Little Night Music there before the transfer (hoping I can afford to go after cast change).

I think Sondheim is really the one who made me a musical theatre person. There's just so much beauty and depth in his work, and it helped me look at some of the classics differently, too. And, of course, he's part of the environment in which people are now working. My favourite current composers for theatre are probably Michael John LaChiusa now that he's learned to write melody (the score to Giant is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard, and ok, the score for The HIghest Yellow was gorgeous but the book had serious issues) and Matt Conner, who no one has heard of because he lives in DC, but his work has this silver curtain of notes that puts me in mind of Sondheim's score for Sunday in the Park with George (think in particular of the opening when George brings Dot out to sketch), and now that he's working with Hunter Foster on a gorgeous adaptation of Sleepy Hollow, I'm hopeful that more people will start to hear his work.

How do I not have a copy of either cast recording of Pacific Overtures, considering I loved that score so much? Could I really never decide between original and revival? I adored the revival. And the revival recording has more music, so one would think it the obvious choice. I'm starting to think I need to spend some money.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

User avatar
MSam
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:12 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby MSam » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:34 am

I'm seeing 'A Little Night Music' at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday. Really excited! Will report how it goes. :)
Image

User avatar
9430
Posts: 507
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 1:37 am
Location: Lancashire, UK
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby 9430 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:14 pm

I have always meant to look into the other works of Sondheim, seeing as I love Sweeney Todd, but have never got round to doing it. What other works would people recommend, or is it all equally good?
aka Fiwen

User avatar
Roses for Ophelia
Posts: 486
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:14 am
Location: in my head
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:27 pm

@9430--It depends on what you like. For a wonderful romantic musical comedy, try the lovely and bittersweet A Little Night Music. If you like darker stuff--and you said you like Sweeney Todd--go for Assassins. For sheer epicness, Into the Woods takes the cake. It's a comedy in the first act, and then gets VERY dark in the second. For teary, introspective beauty, try Sunday in the Park with George. I wouldn't reccomend starting with Follies, as it takes time to grow on people, or with Passion, as that is sort of the outlier of Sondheim's works, and for god's sake, stay AWAY from Bounce! Oh, and as for Sweeney Todd, i hope you've seen the PBS broadcast with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury, and not just the Johnny Depp movie,as that is only about half the music.
Rivers belong where they can ramble...

User avatar
9430
Posts: 507
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 1:37 am
Location: Lancashire, UK
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby 9430 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:24 pm

Don't talk to me about the awful Johnny Depp movie! I suffered through it about a year ago, and don't think I coud watch it again. The first Sweeney Todd I saw was the PBS broadcast on youtube, followed by the one with LuPone and Hearn and wonderful Neil Patrick Harris as Toby (I think I've mentioned this before). I've also seen a couple of local productions, though they annoyed me by copying off the movie for certain bits (since when is beating Anthony up more menacing that wringing the neck of a bird?). I absolutely love how hammy Hearn and Lansbury are in their roles in the broadcast! And the libretto is perfect!

RfO, thanks for the recommendations. I might go and see what I can find and have a listen.
aka Fiwen

User avatar
MSam
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:12 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby MSam » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:55 am

I saw the Sweeney Todd movie last night and I thought the music was pretty good. I didn't have any real complaints since the instrumentation was gorgeous. The lyrics were gross, but I didn't really like the genre so that's not a problem. The lyrics were smart and sophisticated with a great rhyme. My favourite piece from the movie was Johanna, except for the facts the lyrics are totally demented.

A Little Night Music was excellent. The show ran perfectly, with only a few minor draw backs. The sound mix in the Opera House was a little off. Not much reverb on some, while others had some delay and it was a bit off putting. Send in the Clowns was disappointing. I know it was written for an actor to sing, but Sigrid spoke all but maybe two lines. It was soooo disappointing, and it was sung about double time (the song ran for likje..2:25 I think). The vocalist who performed Soon was a little scoopy in places but it was a highlight of the show for me - that, and A Weekend in the Country. The whole cast was just ripping with energy and enthusiasm. I had a really great time at the show, and will probably explore some more Sondheim.
Image

User avatar
[type your name]
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby [type your name] » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:24 am

I wouldn't reccomend starting with Follies, as it takes time to grow on people, or with Passion, as that is sort of the outlier of Sondheim's works


Ah, but I love Passion. Alright, you need to take a 15-minutes break each 3 or 4 songs, but I still love it!

and for god's sake, stay AWAY from Bounce


I don't think I've even heard about this one before...

User avatar
MmeBahorel
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:12 am
Location: Washington, DC
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:32 am

Oh god, Bounce was so depressing. I saw it at the Kennedy Center (thankfully, my ticket was free - a friend's father couldn't go, so he offered me the extra ticket and refused payment). Not that the plot was depressing but that the show was such a mess. And the title song, that kept getting repeated, used the vamp from "Everybody's Got the Right" from Assassins - it ended up being more Andrew Lloyd Webber than Stephen Sondheim. So depressing. And one of my favourite dancers was not being used to his potential - they hired really fab dancers but the choreography wasn't all that great. At least Gavin Creel was awesome? But seriously, the songs were unmemorable or derivative, the plot was a mess, Weidman was trying to cover too much ground with the book, and it just ended up so sad. I've seen worse shows, both in terms of music and in terms of book, but one expects better from Sondheim. I enjoyed Saving Aimee, which was written by Kathie Lee Gifford, much more than Bounce. Probably because I went in with far lower expectations, the necessary clean up was mostly a huge timeline jump in the second act that seriously needed to be resolved, and Carolee Carmello is awesome. I don't remember the music on it, either, really, this many years later, but I definitely recall enjoying myself much more. Which is sad. But I'm desperate to see a production of Passion, so maybe I just prefer Sondheim to stay somewhat esoteric?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

User avatar
Eppie Sue
Posts: 216
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:30 pm
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby Eppie Sue » Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:43 pm

I'll put myself out there and say that, yes, I'm completely d'accord with l'ivrogne. I am not that much into musical theatre (or at least haven't been until I moved to London), really, and although, obviously I had heard of Sondheim, I'd never listened to his work. I'm reasonably familiar with A Little Night Music, Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd, and I'm hoping to see Into The Woods performed in Regent's Park this summer, but really, the only thing that got me into this is Passion. And I adore it.
I know I would have loved it without any kind of connection or link for me, and I know I would have wanted to see it performed, but the whole fact that David has been cast on the spot as Giorgio is obviously what made me discover it. And with Elena Roger starring as Fosca, Scarlett Strallen as Clara, Jamie Lloyd directing and ... it being a Donmar production - and Simon Bailey as Ludovic, which is the best casting in the history of the universe... I'm awfully excited. I love it so much already, just listening to the OLC.
See, I realise how silly and hypocritical it sounds, and I never wanted to be the kind of person who gets into a play or musical due to a particular actor being cast in it, but I really can't help it, and I'm amazed at how much in love with it I am. I think it's gorgeous and heartbreaking and it kills me to listen to the ending: the moment the chorus joins Fosca and Giorgio and they sing "I don't know why I let you/So far inside my mind/But there you are and there you will stay/How could I ever wish you away?/I see now I was blind"... I'm a wreck. And the Garden sequence is so beautiful. The whole thing is, and just reading through it and listening to it, it's incredibly intense and shattering and haunting. I've got tickets for the first night of the previews. It's very exciting, Sondheim being there for rehearsals and everything. Oh God I hope it's good.
I'm sorry that this has just been Passion-centric gushing, but it's the only thing about Sondheim's works that I actually do know. Quite well, by now.

User avatar
[type your name]
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby [type your name] » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:50 am

See, I realise how silly and hypocritical it sounds, and I never wanted to be the kind of person who gets into a play or musical due to a particular actor being cast in it, but I really can't help it, and I'm amazed at how much in love with it I am.


Don't worry, I do that all the time. Can't say the number of amazing shows I've discovered while searching for a particular performer. For me, there never was a good or bad reason to get into a musical, and appreciating the work of an actor is a very legitimate one. :D

By the way, though I've never had the chance to see him live, living on another continent and all, I'm sure David Thaxton will be an amazing Giorgio. And on a side note, after listening to him, am I the only one who could picture him as Sergievsky in Chess?

I think it's gorgeous and heartbreaking and it kills me to listen to the ending: the moment the chorus joins Fosca and Giorgio and they sing "I don't know why I let you/So far inside my mind/But there you are and there you will stay/How could I ever wish you away?/I see now I was blind"... I'm a wreck.


I know, this show probably has the most beautiful begining (''I'm so happy I'm afraid I'll die here in your arms/What would you do if I died/Right here, right now, here in your arms?'') and the most beautiful ending ever.

User avatar
Eppie Sue
Posts: 216
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:30 pm
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Stephen Sondheim!

Postby Eppie Sue » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:09 pm

[type your name] wrote:I know, this show probably has the most beautiful begining (''I'm so happy I'm afraid I'll die here in your arms/What would you do if I died/Right here, right now, here in your arms?'') and the most beautiful ending ever.

I've said this before to others, but I adore how it's this arch... at the beginning, the bareness of the bodies, and at the end, the baring of emotions and soul. It's stripping them of everything, really, and I think that's incredibly powerful.

I thought I'd quote the most recent bit that was released by the Daily Mail about the production (they've started rehearsals this Monday, Sondheim is directly and actively involved and I'm very excited, also because the West End has a lot, but sadly not a lot of quality, so anything with intense acting and a beautiful score has my unanimous support anyway):

Watch out for...
Elena Roger, David Thaxton and Scarlett Strallen, who are the three leads in Jamie Lloyd's radicalised version of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical Passion.

The show starts rehearsals next month and begins performances at the Donmar in Covent garden on September 10. Lloyd told me he has worked intensively with Sondheim and lapine on making the central trio of characters the heart of the show.

'I want to create an intense, hot-house atmosphere where all the emotions are at bursting point,' he said.

Thaxton plays a young officer who is married to Strallen. But Fosca (played by Roger) becomes obsessed by him and loves him beyond reason.

Lloyd explained that Roger and Strallen are the only women in the production.

'The men in the show, all of whom are playing soldiers, will play all the other roles, including the female ones.

'It'll make it more of an intimate chamber piece. I think past productions have been marvellous but overblown, and I want to strip it right down and give it the atmosphere of a psychological thriller.'

He explained that Sondheim has cut some of the score, and trimmed and changed lyrics, while lapine has reshaped the book.

'I email and call them and then we chat about and discuss the pros and cons of each change,' lloyd told me. 'Sondheim's such a nuts-and-bolts man and he's intrigued by everything - the casting, the sets and the whole process of it.'

He said the piece would be ten to 15 minutes shorter than the original london production, which starred Maria Friedman and Michael Ball, and will not have an interval.


I can't wait.
:D

Also, I want to see Into The Woods, which is playing at Regent's Park a bit earlier. And I want to see a production of Sweeney Todd. I'm refusing to watch the movie.


Return to “Other Musicals”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron