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TRANSCRIPT: SONDHEIM/HAIMES ONLINE CHAT

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EugLoven
Broadway Legend
joined:4/23/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/23/05
TRANSCRIPT: SONDHEIM/HAIMES ONLINE CHAT#1
Posted: 5/6/08 at 7:02pm
BEGIN: TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2008
7:00PM EST

* * * * * * * * * *

moderator: Welcome to our first Roundabout Live Chat. Tonight we’re talking with the composer-lyricist of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, Stephen Sondheim, and Roundabout Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Todd Haimes.

We are also thrilled to welcome Roundabout’s Executive Producer Ms. Sydney Beers.


moderator: For the next hour, they will answer your questions and chat about life in the theatre, behind the scenes at Roundabout, and the acclaimed new production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE.

moderator: If you have a question, or a comment, submit it in the field below, and it will enter the question/comment queue.

moderator: For more about SUNDAY, visit www.sundayintheparkonbroadway.com. Use code SPCHAT when buying tickets for an exclusive Live Chat price.

moderator: Let’s get started. Hi, Stephen, Todd and Sydney. Thanks for joining us.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from Genevieve: For Mr. Sondheim - where did the idea of SUNDAY come from?

Stephen_Sondheim: The idea came from the fact tha I wanted to write a show with James. We met over a period of weeks to decide what we wanted to write. I wanted to write a theme and variations. He showed me an issue of Bizarre a montly magazine published in Paris. One of the issues was devoted entirely to variations Mona Lisa (visual and verbal) Mona Lisa with a mustache Charles Addams. James had directed a so-called play by Gertrude Stein called Photgraph, and more a scenario than a play (it was one page long). He talked about images he had used. One of the images he had used was the Seurat painting. We started to talk about the painting and the fact that a- it look3d like a stage set. There were over 50 people in the painting and nobody was looking at anybody else. We started to speculate why that should be true. Then, James said the key thing: the main character is missing. And I picked up my cue and said who was that? The painter. Once he said that, we knew we had a play, and it was about a man who controlled his landscape. Then we discovered to our delight Seurat was a very private person, and that you could invent about him based on the few facts that were known about his life. Ovbriously if you decide to write about Van Gough, you know he cut his ear off, but nobody knew anything about Seurat , so we were able to invent freely.

Stephen_Sondheim: So, what James Lapine did was to take the figures in the foreground in the painting and assign each of them a role. So that they were in some way interconnected. And one of the interesting things about that is that the figure under the tree of the old lady is in a famous poem by Delmore Schwartz as an old man. If you look at it carefully, you cannot tell if it is a man or a woman, and James chose a woman. That is emblematic of his invetion.


moderator: Mr. Haimes - how/why was it decided to bring this play to the NY stage?

Todd_Haimes: I take no credit for this one. I love, we love all of Steve's work and one of the things that is so unique about Steve, in addition to the obvious genious, is that unlike a lot of authors, he relishes to have his work re-interpreted by newer artists. And there have been so many examples of that, obviously, Doyle's Sweeney Todd. This prodcution of Sunday was done by a younger producer and director in London. The director was 26 years old when he received this production. He was an animator, which explains his ability with the projections and other spectacular aspects of this particular production. And, I saw it in London and one of many people interested in bringing it to NY and luckily it ended up at Studio 54.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from David: What is the level of Mr. Sondheim’s involvement in the rehearsal process for the revival productions?

jane: oh, good question from David!
shortman4ever390: i agree
maddkeys: i love this question
StuckToTheStage: Yes, me too.
bialystock93: I also agree
Erin_McBride: It's a good one.
Tobey_Tolet: GREAT question David. Thanks for bringing that up!
David: Thanks


Stephen_Sondheim: Most of the time, not much. When a revival of one of my shows is done, it is usually very firm in the mind of the director what he or shwe whants to do. I and my collaborators have given permission for this new production and pretty much stay out of the way until a final run through or dress rehearsal where any comments we make would be valuable. If the director calls us in, as John Doyle did with me on Sweeney Todd and Company while the show was in rehearsal, then I am happy to go in and give them my two cents. In the cast of Sunday in the Park with George, James and I went to London to see the production, which was already running at the Menier Chocolate Factory. It was about to transfer to the West End. We were able to give the director, Sam Buntrock our comments. That was the only imput we had on it. Then, the Roundabout decided to do it in New York, We were able to give more comments, because it was a new cast except for the two, leading players who came over from London to give their comments. Also, it was a larger budget and production and therefore more opportunity for various effects and the spectacular effects of the show are very much a part of its appeal because they are something that has never been seen.


Theatrimelz: Mr. Haimes and Ms. Beers are there future plans for another Sondheim revival or production in the works at RTC?


Todd_Haimes: We hope to produce Merrily We Roll Along in 2009/2010 Broadway Season. And that production will be directed by James Lapine.

Theatrimelz: very exciting!!!!

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from George for Mr. Sondheim: Now that Sweeney Todd has been put on film, which of your musicals would you most like to see adapted for motion picture at this time?


Stephen_Sondheim: It's not so much a question of which I would like to see, rather which I think would lend itself, and I think Company would lend itself to filming. I think it's very cinematic in its theatrical concept. There is a move afoot to do Follies movie with a well-known director and a well-known star, and I'm not going to tell you who they are. Those are the ones that come immediately to mind. Stephen Speilberg would like to remake West Side Story whether or not that will happen or not...

dissi: will the Sunday revival go on a national tour?

Sydney_Beers: The hope is yes. There are plans...


LimelightMike: That would be AMAZING!

martymartin67: Who is one broadway star you would like to write a show around???

Zach_Durand: Great question
StuckToTheStage: I can't wait for Merrily We Roll Along!
Lou: yay for Merrily!
LimelightMike: MERRILY Revival would be super-amazing!
Greg: I agree; would be great to see MERRILY.
Meshak: Merrily is one of my favorite shows ever!
Theatrimelz: Good choice. While I was in the audience at Sunday in the Park this past Friday I said to my husband that I would love to see a revival of Merrily we Roll Along, so excellent choice as always!

sundayinthepark44: I can't wait! I love that show!
Brynt_Mickels: That's great to hear!
Valalala: How cool is THAT!!!
sundayinthepark44: I would LOVE a Company movie!!!!!


Stephen_Sondheim: Unfortunately, there are very few stars, there are many very talkented actors and musicians in musicals. A star is usually defined as someone who can sell tickets. And, unless they come from the world of television or movies, there are very few. Now, if you're asking whom I would like to write for, I can name a number of people. They are mostly people I have worked with before, such as Bernadtte Peters Angela Lansbury, Mandy Patinkin, Donna Murphy, Raul Esparza. I could go on with others because most of the actors I have worked with are performers I would like to work with again.Ther eare also a number of performers who I have not worked with that I would like to. They are numerous, and I am not being coy. Theatre is filled with sensationally talented singer-actors of both sexes.

moderator: If you’ve recently joined us, we’re about halfway through our Live Chat with Stephen Sondheim, the composer-lyricist of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, Todd Haimes, the Artistic Director of Roundabout Theatre Company and Sydney Beers, Executive Producer of Roundabout Theatre Company. They are answering your questions.

moderator: For more about SUNDAY, visit www.sundayintheparkonbroadway.com. Use code SPCHAT when buying tickets for an exclusive Live Chat price.

moderator: Let’s hear from the next fan.


richardjloftus: For Mr Haimes - How is a show like Sunday In the Park with George cast? Is their reliance on people looking like people within Seurat's painting, or can that be achieved through costume?

brooke07: i wondered the same thing richardjloftus!
Eug: Intriguing question, Richard... *raises one-eyebrow*

Stephen_Sondheim: The interesting thing about that was that Seurat himself was about 6' 1". I don't know how tall Mandy Patinkin is, but he's probably about 6". Daniel Evans is about 5' 7". I cast him party because he has a beard, but mostly becasue he's a wonderflu actor. There is a joke about an actor saying "I can act tall." And it's true, he'll appear tall. When Daniel appears in the 2nd act and he's partially bald, some people think it's another actor, because he has been so convicning in the 1st act. It's something all good actors do. There are beautiful actresses who can play ugly and be completely convincing because of the acting. And I am now spouting cliches and will stop.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from Joey: What advice do you have for someone who would love to produce intelligently crafted, original musicals in today’s commercial musical theatre climate?


emmalou2484: oh thats interesting... ...
BWAYBOY13: wow! great question, Joey!
StuckToTheStage: That's an amazing question Joey!
art.isnt.easy: great question Joey
Brynt_Mickels: I agree, I've wondered the same quite often

Todd_Haimes: It's so dependent on money. And it's sad but true. When something unusual as an unknonwn guest prodcuces on Broadway or even Off-Broadway, it usually is a happy confluence of obviously the talented writers but also the passionate producers who are usually compelled to produce that show on stage. As a result, while some unique and adventurous work does get produced, one has to assume that the majority of the unique and adventurous musical theater work never gets the opportunity to be seen by a large audience. Something like Spring Awakening, which I was involved in the developmental process of took literally 7 years to end up in NYC. And that case was largely through the passion of the director, Michael Mayer, who, because he had success with other commercial properties was able finally to get someone to pay attention to Spring Awakening.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from George: My friend Aileen over at Finishing the Chat, the Sondheim message board, wants to know just what “put your dimple down” means!

Stephen_Sondheim: Somebody's been listening to Merrily we Roll Along. All it means is stop being coy. If you think of someone as having a dimple and putting your finger in the dimple of their cheek, looking kind of innocent. Stop pretending to be innocent. Stop pretending to be coy. That's what she is saying to the leading man in the show. There is a verb "to dimple" which and that means to be coy...I think.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from Edward: What makes for a good collaborator in musical theater?

jcrane: Great question!
Brynt_Mickels: Good question,
brooke07: Good question Edward

Stephen_Sondheim: As a writer, it's somebody whose pace is similar but not entirely like your own. If it is too like your own, it's not good. You need some abbrasion, as in a good marriage. And if you have that, then you have some life in the collaboration. On the other hand, you have to be, a phrase I loathe that's used all the time, "on the same page." Ugh! And a good collaboration has to do with that with pace, viewpoint, and sensitivities. My collaboration with Hal Prince had its strength in the fact that we saw everything big together and everything tiny together. Where we disagreed was in the middlge ground. That's what made it lively theatre. I have that same collabrorative feeling with every librettist I've ever worked with and I look for that in everyone I work with in the future.


Valalala: YES!!! agreeing on the big and teeny things. That's really where the flow takes over. The passion and sparks occur in the grey zone in the middle. Thank you for that!!!


moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from John for Sydney: What does an executive producer do?

Sydney_Beers: Umm, well, I honestly have one of the best jobs on Broadway. And the best job is working at the Roundabout. I basically am the one that Todd will hand off a script to me and I am able to put the production together. All the deals to all the creative. I deal with all the elements of the physical production. I visit out scene shops, electrical shops, sounds shops. I make all the actor contracts. I do all their deals. I then run the show and the personell connected to the show. Us being an institution, I don't do the same things a commercial general manager would do. Such as banking, marketing, and development. On the flip side, I do get to produce through the years which most commercial mangers do not get to do. And working in institutional theater, I get to work on more projects that most commercial general managers because we have the ability to do 16 weeks vs. a general manager who would sign them for a year.


Lou: Mr. Sondheim, if you could rewrite a song that you've written in the past. Which would it be, and why?


brooke07: Interesting question, Lou. Do tell!
art.isnt.easy: oooo such a good question Lou!!!
Zach_Durand: very good question
david_Rosenberg: an excellent question!!
whatavoice: great question
Kelly: fabulous question!!
cmwx122: Nice question, Lou!
LimelightMike: Good question, Lou!

Stephen_Sondheim: There's one song that I continually try to rewrite and I can never make it work. It's in Pacific Overtures and it's called "Welcome to Kamagawa." It's supposed to be a dirty song. I've written 3 versions of it and none of them is funny. And I finally feel defeated. It will always be a little boil in the middle of a show I like a lot. Otherwise, I have had very little desire to rewrite songs.

DrPangloss: awwww... I love "Welcome to Kangawa!"
maddkeys: me too...that's one of my favorite songs in PO
nycsam: Kanagawa certainly got lots of laughs in the last revival at 54.

moderator: We have only 10 minutes left in our Live Chat with Stephen Sondheim, Todd Haimes and Sydney Beers. Send in your last questions.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from Gil: [According to Playbill?]“What are the chances of us seeing your rumored musical version of Groundhog Day, and what drew you to Groundhog Day as a musical?

Stephen_Sondheim: Groundhog Day is in my opinion a first-rate movie and it lends itself so clearly to musical treatment. I'm not the first person who's thought of it. Many have. To make a musical of Groundhog Day would be to guild the lilly. It cannot be improved, it's perfect the way it is. I don't want to touch it, because it's perfect. Pretentious as that sounds


gavojeff: What happened to the planned film adaptation of "Into the Woods"?

allen: oh jeff, what a wonderful question!
BWAYBOY13: Great question gavofeff!!!! i didnt know they even considered a film adaption of one of the best musicals ever!
brooke07: I had the same question gavojeff!
masteractor: Very nice thoughts about Groundhog Day. I love that movie too!


Stephen_Sondheim: The original version was to be done with live actors, but with Jim Henson puppets playing the animals. Then Jim Henson died, and the project fell into a kind of limbo. I think that also would make a good movie. I hope that someday that will be done, but at the moment there is no plan to do it. I wrote two songs for the movie adaptation, both of which I like. And I hope someday, somebody will hear them.

Kelly: That would be awesome with puppets!
BWAYBOY13: NO WAY! PLEASE RELEASE THOSE TWO SONGS 2 THE PUBLIC!
cmwx122: I AGREE WITH BWAY BOY! PLEASE!!!

moderator: We have time for one more.

moderator: PRE-SUBMITTED QUESTION from Micah: Is there anything that you were offered the opportunity to write that you turned down? If so, do you regret that decision?


Stephen_Sondheim: No, there isn't, but I there is something I wish I had been offered to write. It was called Carnivale, based on a move called Lili. It was an MGM movie about a puppetteer starring Leslie Caron and it was a really wonderful idea.

brooke07: Aw I love Leslie Caron

moderator: That’s all the time we have for tonight’s chat. Thanks to everyone for joining us and for making this a lively discussion.

moderator: Stephen, Todd and Sydney, thank you for coming by to answer our questions. It’s been a pleasure


moderator: We have more Live Chats lined up for you. Please join the Roundabout’s e-mail club at Roundabouttheatre.org to be the first to know. For more about SUNDAY, visit www.sundayintheparkonbroadway.com. Use code SPCHAT when buying tickets for an exclusive Live Chat price. Thanks again, and have a good night.



sundayinthepark44: Amazing question! And thank you, Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Heims, for all of your answers! and you too Sydney Beers!!
bobbybaby: THANK YOU!!!!!
RhiannonN14: Thank you for your time!
klong: Thank you Roundabout and Mr. Sondheim
BWAYBOY13: this has been an amazing experience
Zach_Durand: Thank you soooo much!!
whatavoice: Thank you
Erin_McBride: Thank you Stephen!
masteractor: Thank you Mr. Sondheim, Todd and Sydney!
LimelightMike: This has been THE COOLEST experience ... EVER!
Byron: Thank you so much, Ms. Beers
williammm_10: Thank you so much for your time Mr. Sondheim!
Brynt_Mickels: I agree Limelight!
Kelly: Thank you guys!!

* * * * * * * * * *

END: TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2008
8:00PM EST
Updated On: 5/6/08 at 07:02 PM
rclocalz Profile Photorclocalz Profile Photo
rclocalz
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I am not getting anything. I am in the chat room with all the other usernames, but I haven't seen any questions or answers yet.
http://www.glamsmash.com/ - Glamsmash Productions, a video production company in the heart of New York City
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rclocalz
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Nevermind, I got Sondheim's answer.
http://www.glamsmash.com/ - Glamsmash Productions, a video production company in the heart of New York City
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EugLoven
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I find it amusing that the moderator is posting some people's "two-cents" to fill the lull between each question and answer waiting-time!
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B3TA07
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"
jane: oh, good question from David!
shortman4ever390: i agree
maddkeys: i love this question
StuckToTheStage: Yes, me too.
bialystock93: I also agree
Erin_McBride: It's a good one. "

lmfao.
-Benjamin
--http://www.benjaminadgate.com/
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musicalfan07
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I'm glad that they are answering in depth though, it's better than... "I saw the painting. It was good" etc. Wow, there's a possibility of a US tour!
Updated On: 5/6/08 at 07:24 PM
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musicalkid
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EugLoven, you da man!

thanks alot for posting the whole thing from top to bottom.

truly a broadway legend.

Bring Disney's "Der Glockner Von Notre Dame" To Broadway!
http://musicalkid.multiply.com/
jagfkb
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I still wished that he had answered my question about his Mary Poppin's musical, but still fun.
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BobbyBubby
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BWAYBOY13: NO WAY! PLEASE RELEASE THOSE TWO SONGS 2 THE PUBLIC!

Aren't both of the Into the Woods film songs on the remaster?
Actingfreakk
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I just thank someone for posting this. I"m not complaining... yet.
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musicalkid
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issues i wish hed's discuss:

1. upcoming work. what does he do up there?
2. work process on his musicals, especialy per-song
3. just keep talking and saying lovely things... like dimples...
Bring Disney's "Der Glockner Von Notre Dame" To Broadway!
http://musicalkid.multiply.com/
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fosca3
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EugLoven -- thank you SO much for posting this
You don't go to the dragon without a present - Mark Rylance
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ray-andallthatjazz86
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I wish he had given us a hint about the star attached to FOLLIES.
And I wish someone had asked him about any chances of FOLLIES, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, or PASSION revivals.
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
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EugLoven
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You're welcome, all.

We definitely got some great news-leads outta the chat (Merrily) and to all us hardcore fans, even MORE embarrassingly useless yet still fun musical-theatre trivia-tidbits (like The Muppets and Carnivale).