Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Fiona and I saw Stephen Sondheim last night. Applause Musicals Society presented a performance of "In Conversation." I read that these have been held around the US in the past year. Last night it was Vancouver's turn.

The almost 80 year old composer/songwriter/genius of musical theatre talked with UBC Film and Theatre Professor Jerry Wasserman for about an hour and a half. Topics ranged from how he got started as a maker of songs to how he wrote specific songs and plays, the people with whom he collaborated, and the nature of his current project (a super big book, annotating the lyrics to all of his shows and their songs). Wasserman was an excellent moderator, and Sondheim talked and talked. It was interesting to me in that I admire what I have heard of Sondheim's work, and what I know of his reputation and importance in the world of musical theatre. He is a singer's songwriter, and creator of smart, complicated and amazingly beautiful and interesting work. I left the theatre wanting to see and hear more of it.

What impressed me most was the demonstration of love and appreciation shown by the other people who attended. I was there to accompany Fiona, who just simply could not have missed this opportunity. We were actually prepared to travel to Seattle to see Sondheim until the Vancouver show was announced. The Vogue Theatre was packed with people like Fiona, who clearly saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see and hear one of the people they admire most. Everyone in the house seemed to be at least somewhat of an expert on Sondheim's life and work - as evidenced by appreciative chuckles and spontaneous applause in response to his observations. I could feel the people around me hanging on his every word. When he walked on stage, and at when he finished, there were loud and long standing ovations.

Now that Stephen Sondheim has come and gone, leaving his many Vancouver fans to reflect on the storied he told and comments he made about the world of musical theatre, what can we do? Well, for starters, appreciate what Applause Musicals does. I didn't realise that Applause has been in existence for 30 years. This company presents little known/performed musicals, concert style, and featuring a combination of veteran and emerging performers and directors. This season is all-Sondheim. Something tells me lots of people will come. Here's the link to Applause's website.

The other follow-up? Stephen Sondheim's big book (at least volume one of 2) will be out next fall.

question: do you know the songs of Sondheim?

mompoet - know some, want more

No comments: