re: Some Thoughts on Rich/Sondheim Conversation

Basely Tearful
Featured Actor
joined:10/16/09
Just thought I'd share a few wonderful moments from last night's Frank Rich/Sondheim conversation that took place in Seattle.

Sondheim talked about Nunn's Night Music saying the director is taking a "chekhovian" approach to the material and that it works nonetheless. He did make a joke about the length of Nunn's Oklahoma! saying it was half an hour longer than the original production even with a few cuts to the music.

Great story about Hermione Gingold's audition for Night Music. They couldn't see her in the role, she had played high camp mostly, but her audition won them over. She told them she was same age as character (74) but Sondheim and Prince later found out she was 75. In trying to convince them to hire her she removed her wig to reveal a bald head (making reference to her characters' final moment in Night Music).

Sondheim said he was excited about the Paris production on Night Music (he seemed almost giddily excited) mostly due to the casting of Kristin Scott Thomas and Leslie Caron. He's also curious as to what Parisians think of his show because of the score's influences and "because they hate musicals".

Sondheim talked of Ingmar Bergman seeing Night Music. Bergman wanted to collaborate with Sondheim on a film of Merry Widow with Sondheim providing new lyrics. Berman said he like Night Music but the first 15 minutes he thought he was hallucinating because Victoria Mallory looked like the woman he based Anne on. His other comment, regarding Gingold, was "She likes the **** the audience, doesn't she?"

Sondheim said he thinks the film of Sweeney Todd is the only successful "story driven" musical movie to date. He expressed his dislike of West Side Story saying it wasn't believable.

He called Pacific Overtures, Assassins, and Road Show a trilogy.

Weidman wrote a teleplay to Assassins and they even had some interested parties last year but Weidman and Sondheim agreed that the timing was off and they both worrieD about a copy cast emerging with Obama in office.

Sondheim is writing 2 volumes discussing his lyrics. The first part comes out in the Fall and will cover his stuff until Prince and the second volume will be Lapine and after.

The rest was stuff most of you have probably heard before. Merman hearing "Rose's Turn" for the first time, writing Joanne around Stritch, Sweeney's beginnings. It was a delightful evening and if you have a chance to see this talk (not sure if they're going anywhere else) I'd jump at the chance.

Updated On: 10/27/09 at 02:16 PM
threetwoone
Featured Actor
joined:7/30/09
I'm seeing it tonight in Vancouver! (BC, that is...Not Washington)

Sounds like I'm in for a good night, but may I just ask how long it ran? I couldn't find the run time anywhere, and I would like to know to take transit back to my campus. Thanks!
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Basely Tearful
Featured Actor
joined:10/16/09
I think it was around 2 hours.
James2
Broadway Star
joined:5/30/05
Do you remember anything specific he said about Pacific Overtures, Assassins and Road Show being a trilogy? At least, aside from the fact that he wrote all three with Weidman?
My avatar = A screencap from Avatar, arguably the greatest animated show of all
Basely Tearful
Featured Actor
joined:10/16/09
His exact wording escapes me but he said they all deal with different sides of America. Darker looks at the country. I think he used the word disenfranchised to tie all 3 together. And I also think them all being with Weidman lead his to call them a trilogy. I'm not sure if they set out to write 3 works together though. He also says that Road Show worked so well at The Public because of the economic crash. It's a fascinating thought isn't it? I'm going back to all 3 to look at them as a trio.
Updated On: 10/27/09 at 03:07 PM
YipHarburg
Chorus Member
joined:8/24/07
Interesting...

I have privately thought of all the shows Sondheim wrote with Weidman as the "histories," a classification we use in the same way we describe a number of Shakespeare's plays.

Scripps2
Broadway Legend
joined:1/19/08
Thank you for sharing - this is all very interesting.

I'd agree that Nunn's staging of ALNM is Chekhovian and I hope it will be seen by its audiences and critics as such.

The concept of Sondheim and Weidman having their own history cycle is fascinating, and definitely worth reconsidering the three as such.

And he isn't the only person giddy about Kristin Scott Thomas and Leslie Caron in the Parisian ALNM. I think the casting there is more inspired than in the upcoming Broadway revival.
Basely Tearful
Featured Actor
joined:10/16/09
I forgot to add his comments on recent musicals.

He said the only 2 musicals that successfully integrated story and song in a new, interesting way were Spring Awakening and Next to Normal. He and Rich tried to come up with a 3rd but they couldn't.

Rich called the score for Billy Elliot pedestrian and negligible.

Sondheim said the staging of the first 40 minutes of Billy Elliot was as good as anything he has seen but it ran out of story after that. He didn't knock the score as Rich did but you could tell he agreed.
raker
Stand-by
joined:12/27/08
I think Grey Gardens combined story and song well in the second act. The first act, not so much.
Basely Tearful
Featured Actor
joined:10/16/09
I think the music and lyrics of Grey Gardens pour with Sondheim influences. Still, the book isn't very successful. Especially, as you mentioned, the first act.
Updated On: 10/27/09 at 07:15 PM
raker
Stand-by
joined:12/27/08
I've always loved the Follies cast albums and finally saw a full production at a local college. I realized that the whole story was told in the music: the plot, the characters, the conflicts and resolutions were all complete in the music. The book scenes seemed superfluous. Other Sondheim scores are complete in the same way.
boylikethat
Chorus Member
joined:7/7/09
I was also there last night and enjoyed it as well. The highlight for me was when Sondheim said that his collaboration with Lapine was distinct from his collaboration with Hal Prince because it was more experimental. When Frank argued the point that Sondheim was as groundbreaking and experimental with Hal Prince as he was with Lapine, Sondheim came back with "but you said yourself in your review of SITPWG how new and experimental it was." It was a really funny, candid moment.
perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
I saw them do this in New York a while back and thought it was fascinating. Thanks for the recap!
B3TA07
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
'"She likes the **** the audience, doesn't she?" '

What?
-Benjamin
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Basely Tearful
Featured Actor
joined:10/16/09
F*ck. Didn't realize the chat filter was so modest here.
Dein Herr
Stand-by
joined:11/24/08
It's not the chat filter, it's that the word doesn't fit in the sentence unless "the" should be "to."
sabrelady
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/03
Van- FREAKING-couver gets the Sondheim/Rich duet and Toronto gets...
The Maple -FREAKING- Leafs in the worst season evah!
Sometimes life is BIG disappointment.
*sigh*
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Amalia Balash
Broadway Star
joined:7/2/08
Thanks for the recap. I'm going to listen to Pacific Overtures, Assassins, and Road Show back to back this weekend with Sondheim's comments in mind.

I'm thrilled Sondheim's taking two volumes to discuss his lyrics. Next fall can't come fast enough.
qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
"in the fall"..does that mean we have to wait another year?
B3TA07
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Thanks DeinHerr, lol, :)
-Benjamin
--http://www.benjaminadgate.com/
ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
I love how he seems almost more excited about Kristin Scott Thomas and Leslie Caron than Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, lol.
#sadandtransparent
brettarnett
Stand-by
joined:5/2/09
Sorry to bring up an old thread but is there any website or any news about any upcoming "Conversation with Sondheim" events?Hopefully in Denver.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
I realize that politics is a horrible subject to discuss on here, but was anyone else weirdly disturbed by the subtext of Sondheim's remarks about holding off the "Assassins" film? That since Obama was in office, they were worried about a copycat?

Like, isn't that sort of saying, "eh, who cares if Bush got assassinated, but now someone of my own party is in office and I don't want to give anyone any ideas." I'm not speaking as a Bush apologist, just someone who finds the sort of casual reference to political assassination present in that offhand remark a bit... unpleasant somehow.
SeanMartin
Broadway Legend
joined:9/4/06
I think it's more to do with the fact that there's been roughly six times the number of threats against the president since Obama took office.
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Hmm... Wasn't this in very early 2009?

Damn. That IS shocking.

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