Saturday, September 18, 2010
Broadway made Stephen Sondheim cry this week, instead of the other way around. (His musicals aren't exactly feel-good affairs.) A choked-up Sondheim stood on a dais under the new marquee of Broadway's freshly named Stephen Sondheim Theatre the evening of Sept. 15 at 6:30pm New York Time and thanked those who made the honor of the naming possible. "I cry easy," the 80-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner said, holding back some very real tears. A crowd of perhaps 400 watched as the Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist flipped a switch that illuminated a white-light sign representing his signature on the marquee of the former Henry Miller's Theatre, a venue now under a long lease by the Roundabout Theatre Company. This represented only the second time in Broadway history that a living person had been so honored. A long journey and a good life from a career that began back in 1947 when Steve was a teen aged "go pher" for the late great Oscar Hammerstein. Among the onlookers that night were director Harold Prince, director Mike Nichols, longtime pal Mary Rodgers Guettel, (who of course was Richard Rodger's only daughter) and librettist John Weidman. John of course has written the books for a wide variety of stage musicals, three in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim: Pacific Overtures, Assassins, and Road Show. In 1999 he co-created the Tony Award winning musical Contact with choreographer/director Susan Stroman. He has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book for a Musical three times and won many Emmys for his writing on Sesame Street. All of this was alongside performers Patti LuPone and Nathan Lane. Dear Nathan in typical sharp form quipped that he was glad that an actual person was being honored on the marquee, "as opposed to the British Petroleum Playhouse or the McNugget." Or American Airlines, the name of that other Roundabout theatre. My partner John and I are busy at work finishing a new musical called "A Vow Of Laughter". This musical takes place in 1963 right after the tragic Kennedy assassination and deals with a group of desperate comedy writers who are faced with the immediate and daunting task of finding a new television series for Lucille Ball. Their current series is failing badly. So they call upon two classic writers from the 1950s to save them them who were put out of business by the House Unamerican Activities squad and Joseph McCarthy-- who these black listed writers have become since is almost too funny for words! Our nedxt rehearsal for "Edgar Alan and Poe which premieres November 1st at the Actor's Garden Theatre has its next rehearsal on Monday night at 7:00pm. Oh I did forget a bit of news. I have a new cat-- a Siamese mix named Joshua David or JD for short. What a bundle of pure energy this little kitty is. A real spitfire. He certainly will keep me young.