Five Favorite Sondheim Shows

Started by Chris L, Jun 20, 2017, 04:46 pm

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Chris L

Top five and top ten lists are a cliche and usually arbitrary and subject to whim, but they're fun to do anyway. List your top five favorite Sondheim shows in order of preference, from 1 to 5 or 5 to 1, whichever you'd like. Yeah, I know that your choices might change the next time you see a show or listen to an album (or even if your mood changes), but list what they are right now. You can always post another list later. ;)

1. Sweeney Todd - At the end of the first act of the 2002 Kennedy Center production, I felt like I was floating five inches above my seat. The most thrilling moment I've had in the theater, at least since I was an impressionable 10-year-old.
2. Company - The show (or score) that introduced me to Sondheim when I was 25. Having my girlfriend play the OCR for me was magical. It was like nothing I'd heard before in my life. There were chills running down my spine from the first notes on.
3. A Little Night Music - The intricacy and humor of the lyrics in this show are so spectacular that I find it hard to believe that a mere human being could have written them. Maybe that's why people like to say, "Sondheim is God!"
4. Sunday in the Park with George - Though I didn't fully get it until I saw it on stage, the song "Finishing the Hat" on the album felt like it was talking directly to me -- or like I was saying those words to myself.
5. Follies - Another show I didn't fully get until I saw it staged. I already loved a lot of the songs, but actually seeing the Loveland sequence made all the difference. It's a thrilling moment in a thrilling show.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Bobster

I can't do this.  It's too impossible for me.  :)

nulipp

Quote from: Bobster on Jun 21, 2017, 08:45 pmI can't do this.  It's too impossible for me.  :)
Well, we know what #1 is for you ...
I chose, and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.

Gsavage14

Today, it's ...
1. Sweeney Todd
2. Into The Woods
3. Assassins
4. Sunday...
5. Company

Ask me again tomorrow... 🙄

nulipp

An impossible task, but I'll give it a go ...

1.  Sweeney
2.  Merrily We Roll Along
3.  Sunday in the Park
4.  Pacific Overtures
5.  A Little Night Music/Follies (so that Bobster doesn't drop any china)
I chose, and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.

KathyB

Limiting this list just to the ones I've seen, which is why Follies isn't included (Sorry, Robert! You need to come to this area and produce it.)

1. Sunday in the Park with George
2. Sweeney Todd
3. A Little Night Music
4. Assassins
5. Compawoods (I don't care that that's cheating)

iheartgranola

1. Sunday in the Park with George -- This used to be lower on my list, but when I got the chance to play George a couple of years ago it skyrocketed up to the top. When I was younger, I just didn't understand Act 2. Now it makes total sense, and I prefer it to Act 1. It was also during this production that I learned that we were having our first baby... sooooo the whole thing is a little sentimental.

2. A Little Night Music -- I just adore the lush waltzes. I've yet to see a fully staged production. Actually, this is the only major Sondheim work I haven't seen a production of...

3. Company -- Got me through a strange period in my early twenties when everyone in my social group started marrying each other [way too young] and I was just trying to find someone to have coffee with...

4. Merrily We Roll Along -- This has been creeping up the list for me in the past couple of years as my wife and I went through a rather traumatic separating of ourselves from a very toxic and dangerous situation, and we've lost (or left, rather) all of those 'old friends' we once relied on.

5. The Frogs -- Yep. I saw a production of this back in 2014 and it's been on my mind since.

George

For me, it's (in alphabetical order):

Follies - I'm not knowledgeable about the different books, cut/added songs, etc., but the productions of this show that I've seen have been emotional roller coasters about marriage, past, and lost dreams. I love the different music styles, woven effortlessly through the show. When a good production really works, you leave wondering why people say it's so difficult to produce; none of the strings show.

Into the Woods - For the kid in me, who always loved fairy tale stories, books, records, movies, etc. I love the interweaving of stories, the lessons about the cost of wishing, and of course the gorgeous score.

A Little Night Music - Lush and sophisticated, about people waltzing (literally) among each other through relationships and fulfillment. The wordplay of the lyrics in every song are among SJS's greatest, the melodies "hummable" and lovely.

Sunday in the Park with George - I still find this show enigmatic. More than just a story of an artist's life while creating his most famous work, and its ramifications through his family's history, it says things about the creative process and the need, very Red Shoes-ian, to create, many of which I've still yet to discover. It's also the most musically oblique of those on my list.

Sweeney Todd - A mastery of plot, character, music, lyrics, and thrills. About people you actually do come to care about, despite their cartoonish extremes. I remember being truly shocked when Sweeney kills Mrs. Lovett.
¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Leighton

Tricky!  Not sure I can rank them, but these are probably on the list ...

Into the Woods: not the first show I got to know (ALNM has that honour) but the first Sondheim I loved.  It still moves me deeply.

Sunday in the Park with George

Assassins

Pacific Overtures

Passion

No idea how I don't get Follies, Company, Sweeney, or ALNM on there but there we go!
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Meldince

I will ease myself into this new yet familiar message board with the comfort of adding to this thread. I'm tempted to do 'In no particular order' because that's far less difficult than putting them in order but for today I'm gonna go with:

1 - Sunday in the Park with George - well ok, this won't change, it'll stay at number one since it's my favourite show of them all, bar none.

2 - Company

3 - Merrily we roll along - I had to juggle these for second and third, and I'm still not sure they're the right order

4 - Follies

5 - Into the woods

I'm somewhat surprised myself to see that Sweeney didn't make the list. I remember channel surfing (between the three channels that were available in the not-quite-rural-but-definitely-not-big-city small town I grew up in in the mid 80s), finding the TV recording of it and having my mind absolutely blown by what I was hearing and seeing. For the longest time after that I proclaimed the virtues of Sweeney far and wide but to little interest. Of course, it's well known and quite mainstream now, which makes me feel vindicated. People talk to me about how great Sweeney is and I'm all "Oh that's SO when I was a teenager, are you still listening to Duran Duran too?"  :D

And now it's not even top five. Strange days indeed.
You keep moving on.

Meldince

Quote from: George on Jun 23, 2017, 09:28 amSunday in the Park with George - I still find this show enigmatic. More than just a story of an artist's life while creating his most famous work, and its ramifications through his family's history, it says things about the creative process and the need, very Red Shoes-ian, to create, many of which I've still yet to discover. It's also the most musically oblique of those on my list.


I like this description - it's well put but also captures whatever it is about the appeal of this show that's so hard to express. This is my favourite show ever - not just show but for me the music and the songs lift it out of the realm of being a theatre piece and give it a life outside it: Sondheim is often criticised for not writing standalone songs that don't exist outside their theatrical context, and yet when I first heard the songs from 'Sunday', they made perfect sense to me: how could anyone NOT know what 'Finishing the hat' was saying? I'd nearly go as far as saying that the whole plot is a McGuffin for the songs. Nearly.
You keep moving on.

Chris L

Quote from: Meldince on Jun 24, 2017, 02:22 amhow could anyone NOT know what 'Finishing the hat' was saying? I'd nearly go as far as saying that the whole plot is a McGuffin for the songs. Nearly.

I actually kind of agree. Not that the mise en scene, as they say in le cinéma, isn't stunning, especially the formation of the painting at the end of the first act, but it's not quite as great as that one song, which is what hooked me on the recording the first time I heard it. Like you say, how could anyone not recognize what that song was saying? And it says it brilliantly.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Gordonb

Quote from: George on Jun 23, 2017, 09:28 amI remember being truly shocked when Sweeney kills Mrs. Lovett.
SPOILER ALERT
Well that's Sweeney ruined for me  - thanks @George  :))

Bobster

Quote from: nulipp on Jun 22, 2017, 03:38 pm5.  A Little Night Music/Follies (so that Bobster doesn't drop any china)

 O:-)

DrPangloss

I have for a long time categorized my favorite Sondheims, mainly because if anyone asked I could never say just one or list them in any order. So, sorry to buck this trend, but here are my categories:

Favorite score: Passion
Favorite overall show: Sunday
Perfection: Night Music
The Masterpiece: Sweeney Todd