Introduce Yourself

Started by Chris L, Jun 21, 2017, 05:18 PM

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Chris L

This section is for new members to introduce themselves to the community and for old FTC members to introduce themselves to the new people. I'm hoping this will make new members comfortable with posting and help them feel that they're part of this bunch of old friends, including those of us who have known each other for 15 years or more. Just say a few things about yourself, whatever comes to mind. You don't even have to mention your real name, if you aren't comfortable having it on a board that's searchable by Google bots.

I'll start out. I'm Chris Lampton. I've been a Sondheim fan for 42 years (and I'm a little bit older than 42, but I won't say how much ;) ). In the real world I'm a freelance writer, currently doing writing and editing work for websites and helping aspiring authors get their books ready for publication.

I joined the old Finishing the Chat forum on in 2002 and got to know a lot of the people here in the six or seven years that followed. (That's where I met @AmyG, who I now live with.) We're a chummy group who occasionally get together for meals or to see shows (or, more often than not, both). Amy and I live in Long Beach, CA, near Disneyland, so we've also met with Sondheads who were in California to visit the park. (You'd be surprised how many Sondheads are Disney fans, including Amy and me.)

I realize that our general chumminess may be intimidating to newcomers, but we're not as cliquish as you may think. At FTC we were always thrilled to see new members and found that they revitalized the group, until a bad spamming incident caused the membership rules to be tightened. That's why we ask you to write something when you join. We just want to be sure you're not a spammer or a bot.

I hope the old FTC members will post a few things about themselves here and that new members will feel free to introduce themselves. We want to encourage people to post to keep the board interesting and alive. As long as you keep things reasonably civil, all posts are welcome.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Hester Jean

I'm Connie. The Hester is a long story and probably more boring than @KathyB thinks The Scarlet Letter is.  ;)

I came by Sondheim in a very strange way. I work for a local TV station and after the Oklahoma City bombing, a co-worker did a beautiful piece which he ended with  "No More". After watching the package back, wiping the tears from my eyes. I asked what that song was. He told me. I brought the recording and found my home. I still see images from that piece when I see Into the Woods.

Sondheim is so incredible!


Hi, I'm Jennifer. The first time I heard Sondheim's name, I had just gotten Madonna's "I'm Breathless" record and wondered who wrote "More". Weird place to start, right? Then I saw the PBS airing of Into the Woods and was hooked.  A whole lot of cast albums later, I'm generally in awe of Sondheim's ability to capture emotional ambiguity and poignancy in the simplest of phrases.

In real life, I'm a lawyer with two small (read: not yet in kindergarten) children who is trying to write what now appears to be a 900 page fantasy epic novel in my spare time. I also sing and paint and never met a hobby I didn't at least want to try long enough to reach a decidedly mediocre skill level. I'm pretty geeky in my pop culture intake but will read nearly anything that isn't nailed down. Oh, and I obsessively love the novels of Dorothy Dunnett which makes me one of about 8 people in the world. 


Hello!   I'm Tom and I live in CT.  When I first joined the board I lived in Milwaukee.  I am a scuba diver and used to be a PADI certified Dive Master.  Those last two sentences explain my screen name.  I'm no longer an active scuba diver but that could change in the future. 

I think my first exposure to Sondheim was when my babysitter was in her high school production of "West Side Story".  I was too young to know more than I really liked the show and the music and that was when my love of musicals began. 

PS - My current (and first on this forum) profile picture is of a chicken.  The chicken is on stilts.  This was part of an exhibition at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  It was in a old scrapbook along with many other newspaper clippings.  I chose this picture partly because I think the last profile picture I had on the old forum was of the cat, Chicken, who was one of my roommates when I lived in Las Vegas. 

PPS - Upon further reflection it is possible my last profile pic was of actual chickens from my trip to china.  It might have been the photo "Chicken & Rice" which is a photo of two chickens walking among rice plants. 
I no longer long for the old view!


I'm Robert.  I live in the Big Apple but wouldn't mind being in a Disneyland or World a couple times a year.

I didn't know until late high school that the soundtrack of West Side Story and OBC of Sweeney Todd we had at home (I pestered my folks to have us see the show on tour in Philadelphia), the OBC of Company from the public library as well as the soundtrack from A Little Night Music from another library were all connected by SJS.

As a freshman at NYU I made it my goal to find out more about this man.  So after Company I got the next show, NYU's library had the Vocal Score and the OBC.

The minute the music started I broke into tears.

For that was when I first heard Follies.

Vera Charles

I'm Mairi. My Sondheim baptism came when I played the role of Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Since then, I've been in quite a few productions of Sondheim shows. I was introduced to Finishing The Chat about ten (?) years ago by my good friend Rick Light (is he here yet?).

In the real world, I'm a Scot who currently lives in South West England. I work in what is loosely called Arts Education, but also do some directing and performing. when the will takes me (ie when I am asked!).


I'm Bevan. I was first introduced to Sondheim my sophomore or junior year of high school, by one of my music teachers. In short order I fell hard and focused my angsty teenage energy toward studying, memorizing, etc as much of his work as possible.

I joined FTC when I was 16, while I was finding resources for some term paper or something that I was writing. I was a child, my name here was SondheimStud -- which is just one of the many things I cringe about. But FTC became a safe place for me while I was navigating some strange times, and the friends I made here walked me through some massive life transitions.

16 years later, I'm a software engineer with two beautiful and brilliant daughters.

@Chris L  and @AmyG thank you so much for reinventing this forum! The past several days have been full of an odd and familiar comfort as I've come to 'check in' on things here!


I'm learning a lot about people, even ones I've known for a long time.

I'm Amy. I am taking care of the technical aspects of the board. I picked the software and installed it. And I will be the one to maintain it. I'm a graphic designer and web developer so this is not totally foreign to me but it's a complicated piece of php software so this will be a learning experience. Don't worry. We have backups. :)

Chris and I live together in Long Beach. As he said, we met on the board. I grew up in Los Angeles but was born in New York.

I've been into Sondheim since the early 80s when I saw the original touring production of Sweeney Todd. I ended up seeing it twice and I wore out the cast album. I saw the touring production of Company before that (when I was 13) but I think I was a bit too young to get it. The pot scene was kind of an eye-rolling experience for me since I smoked pot and my parents didn't. I do remember loving "Another Hundred People". My brother Andy loved Sondheim even before I did and he had a big influence on my taste and interests. We saw a lot of Sondheim shows together. I still have all the programs.

I discovered the original Finishing the Chat board doing a Google search for reviews of Grey Gardens for an upcoming trip to New York. I had read the critics' reviews but I wanted to see what other like-minded people thought of the show. There was a whole Grey Gardens thread on the board so it came up pretty high in the Google search. The site was closed to new members but I could read all I wanted. I managed to figure out the board admin's (Mark) email and begged him to let me join. In the meantime, I lurked and learned a lot of about these people who knew nothing about me. It was kinda weird. Mark let me in a few months later.

I loved the board and thought it was time to bring it back. It seems others feel the same way.


I'm Diane, formerly known on the board as Diane of Troy and before that, Midwesterner.   I live in a suburb north of Chicago with my husband Will.

I just want to say that Amy and Chris are the perfect parents of our precocious new board.  Thanks, guys.

Some of my old friends may not know that I first came to the board because of the interest of my son, also Will, then aged 13.  He used the name My_Friends.   Once I got interested in the board, he all but disappeared.  Isn't that the way?  Our generation ruined Facebook for the kids also.   I vaguely knew that Will was looking at a Sondheim board, then one day he said "Mom, some of the people from this board are planning a get together at the Kennedy Center.  Can we go?"   And I said, more or less, "WITH THOSE AXE MURDERERS?"

Will is now 29 and is a composer living in Brooklyn (but not a hipster). I also have a daughter, Marie, who is 31 and lives in L.A. with her husband Dan.  They are expecting a baby in December and I'm very pleased at the idea of another generation coming along.  Dan is very musical and I'm sure will be teaching the little one to play the ukelele at an early age.

I knew of Sondheim's musicals in the 70s and 80s but a big turning point in my interest came when I saw "Into the Woods" in London in 1990.  Although at this point I might not place "Into the Woods" in my top five Sondheim shows, I was captivated by its dark whimsy and set out to learn more, acquiring CD's and DVD's and setting the stage for my young son (then only 2 years old!) to become the kind of 13 year old who seeks out a Sondheim message board.

With my kids now scattered to NY and SoCal, I travel a lot, and have met many a Sondhead in those travels.  I also live fairly close to George and we get together sometimes for non-Sondheim related events.  Hester/Connie is my true blue friend and we meet up in NY and Chicago for theater sprees.  And thanks to my friend Darin I have an idea about where to get vegan food in Chicago and NY.


Thanks again to Amy & Chris for organizing this Board. I think it's safe to say it's the format most of us are most comfortable with, and provides an excellent framework for our ramblings.

I'm George, and also live in a suburb north of Chicago, not too far from Diane.

I live with my husband Greg (we finally married in December, 2014) and our 18 month-old Miniature Australian Labradoodle, Bennie (short for Beignet - we're foodies and New Orleans junkies), who's quite a handful.

I'm a self-employed real estate broker and have never acted in a play other than a couple school productions in grammar school. I did have an Actor's Nightmare, however, one night in which I was called upon to go on as the Baker in Into the Woods and sing "It Takes Two." Did you ever realize how tricky those words are?

I was introduced to Sondheim via a West Side Story soundtrack my mom bought at the church rummage sale across the stree for a quarter. I must've been around 7. I memorized the entire gatefold, but paid no attention to the creators of the music. Years later in college, a theatre major floor mate, Peter, had the Company OBC and I got hooked. He got cast (as Peter!) in Marquette's production of Company.

I joined the Board in 2001, in anticipation of our attending the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration, to which we'd committed four weekend trips to attend. The rest, as they say, is history.

I've enjoyed meeting dozens of Board members over the years, and count many of you among my best friends. We've shared many laughs, some tears, and some fun vacations; Robert's presence amps up any Disney trip! Chris and Amy ain't no slouches either. And, to quote the Mayor in Roxanne, "I would rather be with the people of this town than with the finest people in the world!"
¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Hester Jean

Quote from: Diane on Jun 22, 2017, 08:21 AMHester/Connie is my true blue friend and we meet up in NY and Chicago for theater sprees.

:-*  (That is the Kissing smiley, not the Too Much Lipstick smiley! ;) )


I'm Paul and I first joined the old board sometime in 2001. I'd been obsessed with the PBS broadcast of Into The Woods. I'd probably shock myself if I knew how many times I've watched it.  and they were launching a revival on Broadway at the time. I was fishing around the internet for info and came across this wonderful group. I've met and spent time with many of them. The guest room in my house is even named after one of them, Hester's Hollow.

My screen name comes from the fact that I am an artist (art) and a chef (scallion). plus I liked that it sounded kind of Three Muskateerish.

I was a city mouse for most of my life but traded homes for one way out in the country, literally on the edge of hundreds of acres of woods, which I occasionally go into. I have to every now and then! The move has allowed me to explore, with my husband, Dan, lots of new adventures. We've become beekeepers and gardeners. A flock of turkey live in our back yard, and we've added a small orchard of apple and cherry trees.

Professionally I'm a graphic artist who designs theatre posters. I also manage a handful of box offices in a college performing arts center. And while I no longer cook professionally, I cook more than I do anything else. So as soon as I figure out how to post pics here, I'll be inundating you all with pics of my latest creations.

I also need to figure out how to make my avatar blink.
Currently helping Dan search for his chocolate that I ate last night.

Chris L

Re: Connie's too-much-lipstick smiley. I notice that there are alternate emoticon sets available that we can switch to on the board. I may experiment briefly to see if any are better. I have no idea what effect that will have on existing smileys (probably change them, since they seem to be generated on the fly), but don't be surprised if they all suddenly look different. If the other sets are awful, I'll switch them back.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?


I love Diane's "axe murderer's" story ... I remember getting a similar reaction when I told acquaintances I was meeting "my online Sondheim friends" in NYC.

My name is Michael ... I was born and raised in Connecticut, but have lived in Jacksonville, Florida, for more than thirty years.  I'm hoping to eventually find my way back North for good (not a big fan of the South  :().

I don't remember when I joined the Board, I think it was the early 2000's as well ... I've always been "nulipp" (and I like ellipses ;)).

I've always loved musicals since I saw the original Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, and Godspell back in middle school.  I've been a Sondheim fan-atic since a college music professor introduced me to Sweeney Todd way back when it opened in '79.  I was fortunate to see both the original Cariou/Lansbury production as well as the Hearn/Loudon version and the stunning before-he-became-gimmicky Doyle revival.

I am a high school Math and Physics teacher by day, but my real love is directing and performing in local theatre productions.  And I'm proud to say I've directed a number of Sondheim musicals ... and performed in some as well!

For those of you still "waiting in the wings," come on out and play.  I was very nervous to come out of hiding, but these people are the BEST ... very welcoming and, although I don't see (and haven't been online with) them much recently, I consider them some of my most generous, supportive, and thoughtful friends.
I chose, and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.

Chris L

@nulipp - I think we decided once that you had joined about the same time I did, in mid-2002. I joined because I'd just seen Merrily We Roll Along in the second set of three shows at the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration and was so excited by it that I wanted to gush about it to other people. (I discovered that there were people who weren't as thrilled with it as I was. ;) )  I'd seen Merrily before, in 1990 at Arena Stage when it was still being revised, with Victor Garber as Franklin Shepard and David Garrison as Charley. It was surprisingly boring, with Garber sleep-walking through his part. But the KC's production really worked, especially with Raul Esparza going over the top as Charley, and I realized that the show was fantastic when done well. I couldn't contain my excitement, which is why you guys inherited me. ;) (And that's why my original name on the board was CharleyKringas.)
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?