Wednesday, September 15, 2010
STEPHEN SONDHEIM IS HONORED TODAY
Today at 3:30 PM Pacific Coast Time, I would like everyone I know to whistle, hum, or play on a piano a Stephen Sondheim tune. Because at that time (6:30 PM) New York Time. The Henry Miller Theatre will be renamed The Stephen Sondheim Theatre. What an amazing life! What an amazing career. The man who was once a simple "go for" for the great Oscar Hammerstein during the 1947 production of "Allegro" is now only the second man in Broadway history to have a theatre named for him while he was still alive. It was during this same position as a "go for" that he met Harold Prince. What an amazing coincidence that was. As the man once wrote, "Light the lights!" Formerly the Henry Miller's Theatre, at 124 W. 43rd St., the newly constructed venue opened in fall 2009 with Roundabout Theatre Company as the operator, but with Miller's name (and the historic facade) still attached. In spring 2010 — coinciding with Sondheim's 80th birthday, and owing to Roundabout's many productions of Sondheim's work — the organization announced the name change. The marquee signage was installed the week of Sept. 6. The official lighting of the marquee ceremony will be attended by Sondheim and his colleagues Patti LuPone (who appeared in the most recent Broadway production of Gypsy — singing "curtain up/light the lights" in "Everything's Coming Up Roses") and librettist John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Assassins, Road Show), plus Tom Tuft, chairman of Roundabout Theatre Company's board of directors, and many others. The unveiling will take place directly in front of the theatre's marquee. This is a rare modern case of a Broadway theatre being named for a living theatre artist. The Neil Simon Theatre (formerly the Alvin) was dedicated in 1983 in the presence of playwright Simon; playwright August Wilson knew that the Virginia Theatre was to be renamed the August Wilson in 2005, but did not live to see the dedication that fall. So dear Stephen another honor in your name. Our play "Edgar, Alan & Poe" continues to progress. Now I must begin to attract an audience. That will be a chore I haven't done in over twenty years: audiences have usually been recruited for me! The score is really engaging and I'm very proud of our efforts on it. "Edgar, Alan & Poe" is a very different kind of show: a musical fable that says a lot about the folly of harboring grudges when our creator forgives us so many times and on so many occasions. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams went to their graves hating one another over the craziest misunderstandings in all of American history. Adams even had Benjamin Franklin's grandson thrown into prison over a free speech issue: imagine that, one of the champions of liberty, itself was but twenty years later signing the Alien and Sedition Acts which made free speech and expression null and void until it was wisely repealed. The third Alien and sedition Act is still in place today, believe it or not. Today would have been Agatha Christie's birthday (she was born in 1880) and Fay Wray (from the King Kong) movie who was born in 1907.