The Drama Desk recognized the work of orchestrators long before the Tony Awards took up the cause. This year they have inexplicably eliminated the category. Please sign this petition (and join this Facebook group) to add your voice to the symphony of people asking the Drama Desk to reverse their decision.
The songs of Stephen Sondheim represent such an ideal marriage of lyrics and music that it is hard to imagine these elements divorced. Still, on its own, Mr. Sondheim’s music is as rich, intricate and ingenious as music can be.
Yesterday I dove deep into Spotify’s Dionne Warwick collection to discover she did an album of showtunes. It’s fantastic. Here’s “One Hand, One Heart” from Dionne Warwick On Stage and At The Movies. You’ll note that I actually bought the MP3 to share with you because I know you don’t all have Spotify and I love each and every one of you. And also I love Dionne.
No More/Being Alive - Martin Smith - Handful of Keys
Martin Smith was an incredibly talented actor-singer-composer, who was with us a brief time in the West End. He played many lead parts from Phantom, March of the Falsettos, City of Angels, Bitter Sweet and Swell Party. I’m glad to have been able to count him as a friend.
Martin was also a talented composer and pianist and he recorded Handful of Keys, shortly before his death.
Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews: “A Boy Like That / I Had A Love” from West Side Story
Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall featured a massive medley of showtunes the spanned the turn of the century through 1962, when their concert took place. Most of the songs included just get a snipped. This is the only piece, the finale, where they sing an entire song. What’s amazing to me about it is that Carol starts it a little jokey, but they quickly get swept up in the drama of the song and do a really credible job with it.
The newly remastered digital issue of the album is spectacular. The sound might almost be too good - you can tell which bits were recorded live and which were later re-recorded in the studio. (Most of the singing comes from the studio, with pretty much only the banter captured live.)
Wait, so you're going to try to get tickets on July 29th and have a meet up?
Yes - the first Sunday of the run, we’re going to have an all-day line-waiting, park-picnicking, Sondheim-sing-a-long-ing awesome day that culminates in us all seeing Into the Woods today. Everyone should come. EVERYONE.
Steve Sondheim had been an early mentor of ours, almost from the time we were in New York. He came to Sap of Life and thought we were very promising. He said he would meet with us, so we played him some stuff, and he gave us some first-class criticism. He’s always been very generous that way with younger writers. So, I had a contact with him, and I was even a rehearsal pianist for his disaster, Anyone Can Whistle. I knew him well, and Hal Prince was another champion of our work. And Steve always remarked that our styles were very similar, our approach to things. In fact, there’s a song in Anyone Can Whistle called “A Parade In Town.” When he wrote it, he called me up and said, “I love that song in Sap of Life, ‘Watching the Big Parade,’ and I want to make sure you don’t think I stole it.” So he played me the song, and I said, “Thanks for the compliment, but it’s a completely different song.”
Anyway, that’s the kind of relationship we had. So, when they were out of town with Company, I had moved out to LA by then and was mainly doing film scoring. I got married to Talia and the day before our wedding, Hal called out of the blue and said, “Listen, we’re in Boston with Company, and the big dance number has music we don’t like for it. It doesn’t sound like Steve wrote it. Would you come to Boston? We’ll fly you here to work on a piece of dance music.” I said, “We’re getting married in less than twenty-four hours!” “That’s great,” he said, “Get married, and you and your wife will get a honeymoon in Boston!”
So we got married and got on the plane, and it was hardly a honeymoon because Talia got bronchitis. So she was in the hotel room, and I was working 8, 10, 12 hours a day, locked in a rehearsal room with Donna McKechnie and Michael Bennett working on Tick Tock.
Another little side line is that socially, I was very friendly with Hal and his wife Judy. They were always trying to fix me up, and I was one of the models for Bobby! So it kind of threw them when they were out of town with this show and suddenly I show up married!
”—David Shire, on how he came to write “Tick Tock” for Company, from a February, 2001 interview on FynsworthAlley.com.
“This is one of those overview questions that is foolish to answer. Art, even popular art, doesn’t “head” in any given direction - only in hindsight does it seem to have, and then only for academics.”—Stephen Sondheim, in response to the question “Where do you think the Broadway musical is heading?” in a September, 2000 interview on FynsworthAlley.com.
Sondheim has spoken about his frustration in his early career that there was pressure to write lyrics with less specificity so the songs could more readily become radio hits. Specifically, he was criticized for the line “I’m a woman with children” in “Small World” by those who thought it would prevent male singers from covering the song. Sondheim refused to change it in the show, but suggested an alternate line reading for male singers, and what do you know? Johnny Mathis had a hit single with the song, charting at #20.