#Sondheimat90: Happy Birthday Stephen Sondheim!

Today Stephen Sondheim turns 90 years old, a milestone birthday that theater lovers have been celebrating for weeks now. (e.g. Sondheim at 90, a package of six articles in the New York Times; an epic collection of birthday greetings in song from the stars on Playbill.) Today would have been the Broadway opening of the new gender-bending production of “Company,” with Patti LuPone and Katrina Lenk, which would have been a fine way to celebrate.
Sondheim made his Broadway debut at the age of 26 in 1956, which means more than six decades of shows and songs. I thought the best way to celebrate his birthday is to rewatch the videos of some terrific performances of his songs, several from his 80th birthday concerts. Below the videos are some favorite lyrics.

Stephen Sondheim’s Musicals

Girls of Summer (1956) Sondheim composed the title song in this straight play by N. Richard Nash.
Saturday Night (1954, produced 1997): Book by Julius and Philip Epstein
West Side Story (1957): Music by Leonard Bernstein, book by Arthur Laurents, directed by Jerome Robbins. Sondheim is the lyricist.

Gypsy (1959): Music by Jule Styne, book by Arthur Laurents, directed by Jerome Robbins. Sondheim is the lyricist.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962): Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, directed by George Abbott

Anyone Can Whistle (1964): Book and direction by Arthur Laurents

Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965): Music by Richard Rodgers, book by Arthur Laurents. Sondheim is the lyricist.

Company (1970): Book by George Furth

Follies (1971): Book by James Goldman

A Little Night Music (1973): Book by Hugh Wheeler

The Frogs (1974): Book by Burt Shevelove (2004 version book by Nathan Lane)[112]

Pacific Overtures (1976): Book by John Weidman

Sweeney Todd (1979): Book by Hugh Wheeler

Merrily We Roll Along (1981): Book by George Furth

Sunday in the Park with George (1984): Book and direction by James Lapine

Into the Woods (1987): Book and direction by James Lapine

Assassins (1990): Book by John Weidman

Passion (1994): Book and direction by James Lapine

Road Show (2008): Book by John Weidman (formerly titled Bounce, Wise Guys, and Gold!)

Work in progress with David Ives, tentatively titled Buñuel


The videos are in roughly chronological order by the date of the show in which the song debuted

from the movie version of A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum, the first Broadway musical for which Sondheim composed the music

from Company:.

Here’s Sondheim rehearsing “Getting Married Today” from Company with the original singer, Beth Howland

from Follies

from A Little Night Music

from Sweeney Todd

from Into the Woods

1993 Kennedy Center Honors

from Company

My Twitter pals favorite Sondheim lyrics:

“Loving You” from Passion:
Loving you is not a choice,
It’s who I am.
Loving you is not a choice
And not much reason to rejoice,
But it gives me purpose
Gives me voice to say to the world:
This is why I live
You are why I live.

“I’m Still Here” from Company:

Good times and bum times
I’ve seen ’em all and, my dear
I’m still here
Flush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer
But I’m here

I’ve run the gamut, A to Z
Three cheers and dammit, c’est la vie
I got through all of last year
And I’m here
Lord knows, at least I’ve been there
And I’m here
Look who’s here
I’m still here

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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