“Forgotten Hollywood”- Goodbye to Sondheim…

Posted on November 26, 2021 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

“`Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim would change American musical theater, reaching artistic heights with legacy works as  West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, FolliesSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Little Night Music, and Into the Woods. He began to grasp the essence of musical theater when he was a teenager from his neighbor and mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II. He later advised a new generation of Broadway influencers, including Lin Manuel Miranda.

                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM

“`He began his career writing for the television series Topper.  He devoured 1940s and 1950s films, and called cinema his basic language; his film knowledge got him through The $64,000 Question contestant tryouts. Sondheim disliked movie musicals, favoring classic dramas such as Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath and A Matter of Life and Death. He loved the work of Michael Curtiz and Raoul Walsh.

“`He eventually collaborated with and wrote the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s score for West Side Story, inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He also worked with fellow composer Jule Styne as a lyricist for Gypsy, loosely based on the memoirs of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. The initial musical for which Sondheim wrote music and lyrics was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The concept, based on farces by Plautus, was written by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Sondheim’s score was not well received;  while the show won several Tony Awards (including Best Musical), he did not receive a nomination.

“`He scored signature hit Send in the Clowns from his 1973 musical A Little Night Music. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Judy Collins, among others. One of Sondheim’s greatest triumphs was the Pulitzer Prize he shared with composure James Lapine for the 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George,  about nineteenth-century French Neo-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat. The two later collaborated on Into the Woods.  Other projects did not fare as well. Plus, he seldom compared favorably to the efforts provided by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“`Other film assignments not related to his work on Broadway include The Last of Sheila, co-written with Anthony Perkins; and music provided for  The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Reds, Dick Tracy, and The Birdcage.  He recently collaborated with Steven Spielberg on an update of West Side Story to be released in December.

“`Sondheim received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man) from Dick Tracy. He also won eight Tonys for his work on Broadway and eight Grammy Awards for his musical theatre albums. Sondheim has also been nominated for two Golden Globes and he received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993. In 2015, President Barack Obama presented the lyricist the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony.

“`A virtual tribute Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Celebration was live-streamed on Broadway.com’s YouTube channel on April 26th.  Participants included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Nathan Lane, Josh Groban, Patti LuPone, Neil Patrick Harris, Bernadette Peters, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Baranski, Jason Alexander and Audra McDonald.

“`His work addressed darker, more harrowing elements of the human experience, with songs often tinged with ambivalence about various aspects of life. It allowed him to be uniquely relatable to his theatre-going audience.

“`Stephen Sondheim was ninety-one.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Friday, November 26th, 2021 at 10:24 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Bookmark this post:
Digg Del.icio.us Reddit Furl Google Bookmarks StumbleUpon Windows Live Technorati Yahoo MyWeb

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.