Remembering Stephen Sondheim

Today we are remembering the life and work of notable composer Stephen Sondheim.  Sondheim created musical scores reflecting dark or mature subject matter, and his acrobatic rhyming abilities made for unforgettable lyrics.  His songs remain in our heads to this day, and his contributions to the American musical are still being felt in contemporary theatre.  The St. Tammany Parish Library has a good amount of his work available for check out, and if applicable, the theatrical recordings will be available alongside their movie adaptations.

Sondheim's earlier contributions start as a lyricist for Gypsy and West Side Story.  The former is a dramatized telling of Gypsy Rose Lee's rise to burlesque stardom, the latter a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York with opposing gangs cast as the warring families.  As of this writing, Steven Speilberg's adaptation of West Side Story will premiere December 10 in theatres.

The next title we're sharing is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a comedy of errors set in ancient Rome.

Company is a dark comedy reflecting the struggling married lives of 10 individuals and their single friend, who is hesitant about commitment.

In A Little Night Music, a web of complicated romances comes to a head at an important dinner event.

Set in Victorian England, Sweeney Todd is a Penny Dreadful styled black comedy detailing the visceral deeds of a barber and his baking accomplice.  This musical was adapted to film in 2007, directed by Tim Burton

Sunday in the Park With George is a musical focusing on two artists--Georges Seurat of the Impressionist era and contemporary cynic George, Seurat's descendant.  This was the first collaboration Sondheim made with playwright James Lapine, and it is available to check out on DVD and Hoopla.

The final theatrical production we're sharing today is Into the Woods, another Sondheim-Lapine collab. The stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and an original story about a baking couple intertwine in this musical about the importance of listening, the difference between nice and good, and the dangerous power of wishes.  Disney adapted Into the Woods for film in 2014, and the original Broadway cast performance is available to check out on DVD and Hoopla.

And check out these books written by and about Stephen Sondheim!

Finishing the Hat

Stephen Sondheim

Thank you for reading!