Misc. Sondheim-related interviews

Started by KathyB, Oct 17, 2020, 09:18 PM

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I found this this afternoon and couldn't figure out where to put it. It's not really about any specific show, although Mandy Patinkin does talk about Sunday in the Park with George.



The May 2021 issue of Games World of Puzzles (which I just got in my mailbox) has a five-page interview with SJS about his love of puzzles. It talks quite a bit about Sondheim's history with crossword construction and about his puzzle collection. Unfortunately, Games is not very good about putting their stories online. If anybody is interested in reading the article, I'd encourage you to buy the magazine for $5. Or I can attempt to scan it. Now I have to decide if I'm actually going to do the puzzles in this issue, or if I should keep it as pristine as possible. (Fortunately, the article doesn't have any puzzles printed on the back of it.) One thing I learned in the interview is that SJS is one of the few people who have been a subscriber to Games since its beginning. (I've been a subscriber only since 1981.)

SJS was last in Games magazine in 1983, in an article by Dick Schaap. I have that issue, and it has crossed the country twice, having been sent to various Sondheads.


Here's the Games World of Puzzles article, which I scanned because I figure it's a fairly obscure interview and I thought people might like to read it.



Bits of this may be familiar from Lapine's HBO doc Six By Sondheim.

This episode of The American Musical Theatre originally aired on CBS on Sunday, October 15, 1961, three days before the original West Side Story movie opened.


Coming November 22, just in time for the holidays:


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"In 2017, New Yorker staff writer D.T. Max began working on a major profile of Stephen Sondheim that would be timed to the eventual premiere of a new musical Sondheim was writing.  Sadly, that process – and the years of conversation – was cut short by Sondheim's own hesitations, then the global pandemic, and finally by the great artist's death in November 2021.

Now, Max has taken the raw version of these conversations and knit them together into an unforgettable work of literature and celebration.  Finale reveals Sondheim—a star who disliked the spotlight—at his most relaxed, thoughtful, sardonic, and engaging, as he talks about work, music, movies, family, New York City, aging, the creative process, and much more.

Max brings you into the room and gives you a front row seat for their unusual and intimate three-year-long 'pas de deux.'  The two bond, spar, separate, and reunite, as Max elicits from Sondheim a candor and vulnerability he seldom displayed in public.

This is a unique portrait of an artist in his twilight, offering remarkable insight into the mind and heart of a genius whose work changed American musical theater and popular culture forever."

(A version of Max's planned Sondheim profile was, in the end, published in the New Yorker this past February).


Wall Street Journal review of Finale: Late Conversations With Stephen Sondheim, out tomorrow:




Quote from: Lisa Schwarzbaum, New York TimesBeginning in early 2017, on and off through 2019, the New Yorker staff writer D.T. Max conducted five long interviews with Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) in the hopes of writing a magazine profile of the celebrated composer and lyricist.  The hook was to have been a musical Sondheim was working on at the end of his life.  We may never know why the project was such a personal struggle for the artist.  But it was, it floundered, and Sondheim withdrew his interest in participating in the profile.  For that matter, we may never know — and why should we? — the real state of his health and the real discomforts and diminishments attending a man heading toward the age of 90.

All we know is that soon after his subject's death, Max has turned his unused transcripts into FINALE: Late Conversations With Stephen Sondheim (Harper/HarperCollins, 225 pp., $20.99).  There is nothing fresh here, not to anyone who, loving Sondheim, has already probably read a lot by and about him.  There is, instead, evidence of a vulnerable late-life fragility and creative depression that the journalist hopes to package as reflection.  Max has moxie in his favor, that's for sure.  Not knowing much about Sondheim beforehand, aside from the fact that he loves the guy's work, was in a high school production of "West Side Story" and felt, as he puts it, "a unique connection" to the man (only like every Sondheim devotee ever), Max decided that biographical ignorance would be in his favor, and that in place of knowledge, the younger man would delight the older man with banter.  With conversation.  With being a part of this unusable profile.

And so, with singular tone-deafness, he presses an obviously fading old man, asking how's it going, huh, how's it going, can I sit in on your creative process?  No?  Why not?  And Sondheim seems to be saying, I'm tired, my body hurts, you're not listening, I've explained this all before.  To which Max goes, OK, let me tell you a pun, a rhyme, you must meet my wife.  To which Sondheim says, let me get my hat and my knife.

I wish.  Max cites Lin-Manuel Miranda's comment that "anyone who tells you that Sondheim isn't an influence on their music or their work is lying."  A better quote would have been one the creator of "Hamilton" put in the singing mouth of George Washington: "Let me tell you what I wish I'd known / When I was young and dreamed of glory. / You have no control / Who lives, who dies, who tells your story."

This is on my Christmas wish-list, but yikes... maybe it shouldn't be.


A piece in the NYT today rounds up ten (!) recent & upcoming books about Sondheim:



Directors Lear DeBessonet, Maria Friedman, and Tommy Kail talk about their current revivals of, respectively, Into The Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, and Sweeney Todd:




Quote from: KathyB on Jan 11, 2024, 03:46 PMFrom NPR:
Stephen Sondheim is cool now


Worth a five-minute listen.

Delightful! :)  Thanks for posting this, Kathy.