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Sondheim at 90

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Posted By: StormCnter, 3/3/2020 12:54:21 PM

Fifty years ago, the Broadway musical was marking time. The songwriters of the pre-rock era were all past their prime, and except for Burt Bacharach and Hal David in Promises, Promises and James Rado and Gerome Ragni in Hair, none of their successors was writing scores that made idiomatic use of contemporary pop music, much less producing shows whose subject matter reflected the fast-growing social complexities of modern American culture. Then, in the spring of 1970, Stephen Sondheim, a 40-year-old lyricist best known for writing the words to Leonard Bernstein’s music in West Side Story (1957) and Jule Styne’s in Gypsy (1959), teamed up with George Furth on a plotless show

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Reply 1 - Posted by: starboard 3/3/2020 1:57:02 PM (No. 335788)
Ah, West Side Story, my favorite musical and with the best choreography. Apparently, they're remaking the film. That's on I will want to see.
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Reply 2 - Posted by: MrDeplorable 3/3/2020 3:54:59 PM (No. 335874)
This may come across as sonorous pop-philosophizing but in my opinion, although Sondheim's ouevre is clearly that of a genius, it's nothing more or less than an indictment of the culture of Post-World War (II)America, for as the man himself says, "it's all about ambivalence. . .that's how I feel and how I think most people feel...." Sondheim's world was and is one of city folks, the wealthy, the intelligent and the "hip" all engaged in "alternative lifestyles" who wouldn't recognize a moral or ethical principles if they were skewered on toothpicks in their Dirty Martinis. Steve Baby, of course everyone in modern America has AMBIvalence, meaning contradictory values, for the simple reason that the families, communities and schools in which they were reared never gave them any VALENCE, meaning values, in the first place. My question for the nonagenarian Sondheim is: "What do you think Oscar is thinking as he listens to the sound of music of his protege?"
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Reply 3 - Posted by: Kate318 3/3/2020 6:46:12 PM (No. 336016)
I never was much of a Sondheim fan, which is somewhat heretical in the musical theatre profession. With a few notable exceptions, his music just seemed to be all over the place. However, I watched a documentary on him several years ago, and he seemed to be a charming, down-to-earth man. I was expecting a lot of erudite pontificating, along with a side of gay politics, but all he did was talk about his music in the most pragmatic of terms. He wrote this song for so-and-so because she couldn’t sing anything more complicated. Or, this song was born out of necessity for a fast set or costume change. It was a delightful surprise. I came away with newfound respect for the man, personally and professionally. (But, I still think his music is all over the place...)
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Reply 4 - Posted by: ROLFNader 3/4/2020 10:19:39 AM (No. 336560)
Fans of Broadway will enjoy James Taylor's new release (02/28/20) , American Standard. It showcases the musical/lyrical brilliance of the great songwriters a bit before Sondheim's treasures (Rogers and Hammerstein, et al.) There is also a youtube of the production of the album which was recorded ,for the most part, in his home studio at his beautiful farm in Mass. Fans of either genre should enjoy his renditions of Old Man River, God Bless the Child, Moon River, My Blue Heaven and others.
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