Side by Side by Steve
“Hi, this is Steve Sondheim.” I paused, thinking it must be a friend from school trying to freak me out. I mean, several of my friends knew I had written Mr. Sondheim a letter– yes, handwritten on a legal pad– asking perhaps to meet him. My expectation was a polite letter back saying “no” but at least I’d have a letter from him!
The voice was too deep and adult sounding to be one of my 19 year-old peers. I stuttered, “Oh… Hi! Uh…. thanks for calling me!” It really was him! He offered to meet with me and I spent an amazing two hours talking about musical theatre, his work, and the future. That was June 7, 1982. (I have the autographed A Little Night Music score to prove it!)
During that conversation, Sondheim told me at one point that he was never going to write a musical again. “I’m going to write mystery novels,” he announced. He was still smarting from the critical drubbing of Merrily We Roll Along earlier that season (which I saw and spent many days checking in with Colony Music awaiting the cast album). I was, of course, devastated by his comments, but I could sense that he wasn’t convinced of his decision.
I’m grateful to say that two years later, Sondheim came roaring back to life with Sunday in the Park with George and my life was forever changed… by the meeting and the show!
I’ve been “spreading the gospel” of Sondheim ever since and I’m not the least bit ashamed to be a “disciple.” It’s not like he’s the only writer I admire nor are his shows the only ones I listen to and think are wonderful. But from West Side to Road Show there’s never been a body of work like his and those shows make me proud to be a part of the world of musical theatre.
So even though the theatre world spent much of 2010 celebrating the work of Stephen Sondheim in a multitude of ways, “the little revue that could” was overlooked in all the hubbub. That’s why I’m very happy to have Singing OnStage Productions bring Side by Side by Sondheim to NYC in a concert presentation with an amazing cast: Sally Wilfert, Kate Wetherhead, and Paul Anthony Stewart. This trio will bring back the early Sondheim works (nothing included past Pacific Overtures) in an intimate, up-close-and-personal way at the beautiful Laurie Beechman Theatre. It promises to be an exciting evening!
The show is our autumn fund-raiser and will only be performed twice: Tuesday, September 13 and Thursday, September 15 at 7 pm. Tickets are only $20 (there is an additional $15 food/beverage minimum) and reservations can be made by calling 212-695-6909. I wouldn’t wait to get that reservation! For more info, click here.