STEPHEN SONDHEIM
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John Bucchino... 'It's Only Life'

When John Bucchino was living in LA, he had dreams of becoming the next Billy Joel or Elton John. He tried for years. But no one was listening.

"I tried hard," he said, in a recent interview at the Samuel Becket Theatre where he is currently in rehearsals for his new revue called "It's Only Life."

"They didn't "get it" at all. For twenty years I wrote songs and hoped that someone would pluck me from obscurity and give me a record deal and pay me! That didn't happen."

And then…it all changed. After years of trying to beat down doors in the City of Angels, two rather well-known composers named Stephen from New York contacted him.! Their last names were Schwartz and Sondheim!

"Stephen Schwartz had heard some songs of mine. I don't read music, and it was all on a tape he had to learn. The song was "In A Restaurant By the Sea" and he had to accompany someone at a benefit. And he said, "I like this song, who wrote this song?"

"He called me up, and said he'd never done this before, told me he loved my songs, and we met in LA. I had never seen a musical of his. I played more of my songs for him, and he played me more of his and I thought, "Hey, this guy's really good!" And I knew he was, like, famous, which was exciting to me, but I didn't know what he DID, particularly."

"We got to be really good friends We'd go out for sushi and play songs for each other. He said early on that I should think about writing for the theatre, because there is an inherently theatrical element in my work."

"Also, at that point, I had met Stephen Sondheim. One thing I would always do was to send CDs and tapes to anyone I thought could be remotely helpful. When Stephen Schwartz suggested I write for the theatre, I got a tape to him [Sondheim]. He called me and said, "We have to talk." He also told me to write for the theatre."

So here, nobody in LA is interested in me, and here are the two most famous successful song writers who ever lived saying "Come to New York, write for the theatre." Do I have to be clubbed over the head? So I did."

"It's Only Life" is not John's first attempt to present his works in a revue format. He tried three times previously, in various formats and forms.

"So, eight months ago, I said, 'I want to do this with Daisy Prince.' As busy as she is with two kids and her life, she said to me that she's always wanted to do this. We're dear friends, anyway, and it just felt so comfortable. The other bonus is that she is really familiar with the songs. So, in choosing the order, etc. her familiarity with the material was helpful. So, effortlessly (and that's one of the hallmarks of a good project), she and I put together this order of songs. There are no characters, there is no plot, and we did a reading for it in February It has more of an emotional impact than any other attempt to put my songs together. "

"People just responded so positively to it. The same criteria that I use when I'm writing a song, that makes it feel "right", an emotional arc, being touching, being something that's moving…this revue feels like a larger version of that kind of "rightness" emotionally. Not even looking at others positive responses, I feel so good about it. FINALLY!"

With an amazing cast that is comprised of Jessica Molaskey, Billy Porter, Michael Arden, John Bolton, Andrea Burns and John at the piano, it's hard to see how it can fail!

As for his collaboration with Director, Daisy Prince, he says, "she is one of the dearest, warmest, most embracing people that I've ever met. She's also brilliant…like…scary smart. SO insightful and so great at this stuff. One of the pleasures of developing this with her, is seeing how her mind works and having a greater appreciation of her creativity. To get to know her as a director and co-conceiver of this piece, and to see the way her mind works has been fascinating. She's extraordinary! "

As for the show itself, he says, "I like digging in and writing about important things, but I love the seriousness balanced by humor and energy. I think it's really an uplifitng, exciting show."

"Where we are in the world, I think it's time for this piece."

As for the future, John has begun collaborations with Harvey Fierstein for a new musical based on a Paddy Chayevsky made-for-TV movie.

New York City is a perfect fit for John Bucchino, and we're glad he made that change in his path that brought him here. Where will it take him? Who knows? After all, "It's Only Life."



There will be seven performances of the show between July 27th and August 1st, 2004. The show will run at the Samuel Beckett Theater, part of the Theatre Row Complex, 410 W. 42nd St. between 9th and 10th Avenues. All tickets are $10, available through www.telecharge.com (for an additional $2.50 fee) or at the box office. For more information please visit www.spfnyc.com. Performance dates and times are:

Tues. July 27th at 7 P.M.
Wed. July 28th at 8 P.M.
Thurs. July 29th at 7 P.M.
Fri. July 30th at noon
Sat. July 31st at 2:30 and 8:30 P.M.
Sun. Aug. 1st at 2:00 P.M.

You can also find more information about John and his music at www.johnbucchino.com

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