FOR STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S 85TH BIRTHDAY, A LIST
Stephen Sondheim is, for my money, our greatest living artist. Period. Here are some (but not nearly all) of his greatest accomplishments. Suggestions and additions are welcome and encouraged.
- •"Gee Officer Krupke, Krup you!"Broadway wasn't ready for the original "Fuck you!" lyric, so Sondheim found a superior replacement. It's the type of lyrical invention he would continue to utilize throughout his career.
- •"Anyone Can Whistle"This whole show is weird and wonderful, but the title song has a deeply moving, beautiful simplicity. I think we take it for granted. Remember: "What's hard is simple. What's natural comes hard."
- •Evening PrimroseThis hour-long TV special is like the greatest episode of "The Twilight Zone" with some of the most beautiful songs ever written. "If You Can Find Me, I'm Here" is one of my favorite songs to sing (poorly). If that's ever something you'd like to see, just keep an eye out for me walking anywhere by myself. Trust me, I'll be singing that song.
- •"Sorry/Grateful" & "Marry Me a Little""Being Alive" gets a lot of love (as it should), but in my life, I'm not quite there yet. "Sorry/Grateful" and "Marry Me a Little" better represent my love life and my views on relationships in general. I think there's a fair amount this show gets wrong about relationships (it's still a masterpiece, just a dated, flawed one), but with these two songs, it nails it.
- •FolliesOf all the Stephen Sondheim shows, this one is the Stephen Sondheimiest. It is perfect.
- •"A Little Priest"A song in a horror musical that stops the plot almost entirely for two minutes of story and five additional minutes of cannibalism puns. God bless it.
- •Merrily We Roll AlongThis is my favorite musical. I find it so profoundly moving, it's difficult for me to talk about in any comprehensible way. It's cynical, hopeful, tragic, comic, timeless and completely of its moment. It's our story. It's how we got here. It's where we're going. Rolling along. Rolling along. Rolling along.
- •"Stop worrying if your vision is new. Let others make that decision - they usually do. You keep moving on."Thank you, Dot.
- •"The light is getting dimmer." "I think I see a glimmer."I watched the recording of the Broadway production of "Into the Woods" a couple of days after my high school sweetheart of over two years abruptly ended our relationship. I was destroyed - I thought we were going to get married (when you're a teenager in rural Mississippi, this is a fairly reasonable assumption). I was numb and lost in the way only an 18-year-old can be. This line of hope in the show's finale was the first thing to bring me comfort. I was going to be okay.
- •AssassinsSondheim's underrated masterpiece. One of the two best musicals about America. The first - "1776" - is about what America could be. "Assassins" is about what America has become. It's a dark view of the American Dream, and an essential one.
- •Rose's Turn from GYPSYThe single most haunting nervous breakdown in musical theater. You have to play to win BIG to pull this one off: thank you Merman, Staunton, Lansbury and especially LuPone for the gift of perfect theater moments. Hon. mention to all of those who have valiantly tried.Suggested by @mwepper
- •It's called what's your choice?It's called count to ten/it's called burn your bridges, start again/you should burn them every now and then/or you'll never grow!Suggested by @LizWatson
- •I went to Stagedoor Manor Theatre CampAnd they had a plaque outside the main stage saying "Years from now/We'll remember and we'll come back/To this rooftop and hang a plaque:/This is where we began!" Which is so heartbreaking and misguided and sincere and stupid and lovely that it makes me honestly laugh and tear up simultaneously thinking about itSuggested by @LizWatson