Stephen Sondheim, RIP

Stephen Sondheim passed away today at the ripe old age of 91. He could honestly be called one of the most influential composers of my lifetime, certainly when it comes to theater.

Sondheim has always been a big part of my life. The first song I sang as a toddler was (rather inappropriately) Soon from A Little Night Music. We would always play Sondheim musicals on car trips. My wife came down the aisle to Not a Day Goes By from Merrily We Roll Along.

I’ve never had the privilege of seeing a Sondheim show on Broadway, but I’ve seen a lot of traveling cast productions and smaller scale productions and enjoyed them all. I also have copies of the filmed Broadway versions of Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park With George, all of which I’ve watched many times.

Who else here has good memories of Stephen Sondheim?

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I’m a big fan of classic musicals and his shows were never my favorites - a little too precious for me - but there’s no denying that he was a titan who influenced many creators and brought pleasure to many people’s lives.

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I was obsessed with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at way too young an age.

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West Side Story is my favorite musical. Sweeney Todd is up there, too.

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I enjoyed that one, too. I used to watch it as a kid and then I watched it when I was older and realized what some of the jokes meant and I was a little shocked. :slight_smile: …but I still think it’s funny… it’s just a little bit of a guilty laugh at times.

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I was a lead in a production of Into the Woods and studying the script so closely really impressed on me what a creative genius Sondheim had. His use of words and wordplay showed real wit, not just clever for the sake of being clever but using both lyrical irony and musical motifs to really make the audience think deeper about the themes. Even though our director for the production was, uh, not my favorite person, I’ve always appreciated him for taking the time to help the whole cast analyze Sondheim’s lyrics and get the most out of such an amazing show.

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I’m so lucky, I live walking distance from the Arlington VA Signature Theater which is famous for its excellent Sondheim productions. Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd (twice) and Assassins are some of the Sondheim shows I’ve been able to see.

My all-time favorite was Sunday In The Park With George which used the original sets and costumes from the original Broadway production. To see it all on such an intimate scale was amazing. The final chorus had me blubbering like a baby.

I was hoping he would get the Nobel Prize for Literature like Bob Dylan, but it never happened.

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I never became a hardcore fan, but I have fond memories of seeing Into The Woods with a close friend when it was in its original run. (Phyllis Rashad had replaced Bernadette Peters, but the rest of the cast also impressed me.) The Prince’s “I was raised to be charming, not sincere,” still gets occasional usage in my daily life to this day. :wink:

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My favorite Sondheim song:

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I love Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods

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