Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Greg weighs in on Sondheim...

I blogged recently about which Sondheim shows might qualify for the term "rarely-produced."

I theorized that his latest, Bounce probably would, along with The Frogs, Saturday Night, Merrily We Roll Along and Anyone Can Whistle.

Greg has a slightly different take:
I would argue that neither "Merrily We Roll Along" nor "Anyone Can Whistle" qualifies in any way, shape or form as "rarely produced" -- Broadway flops, yes, but not rarely produced! In fact, didn't you star in a production of "Whistle" not that long ago? (And aren't Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald doing it for the Ravinia Festival this summer?)

Editor's Note: Yes, I starred in Anyone Can Whistle at Foothill Music Theatre, back in 1998. I mean, that's 8 years ago now, and I don't know of another production around here before or since, do you? I did not know about the Festival performance of which Greg speaks. It's not mentioned on their site, although 3 performances of Patti LuPone as Mama Rose is newly announced! Anyway, moving back to Greg:
"Saturday Night" is -- well, it's one of the few shows that I saw (in NY) and didn't stick around for Act Two. Sondheim was wise to keep it on the shelf all those years. And I think that the fact that none of the local Sondheim "specialist" companies has chosen to do it speaks volumes to the lack of a good show there. The leading man is so unlikeable it really kills the show, in addition to the so-so score (though it's really the book that sinks it.) The Sondheim Review keeps up with all scheduled productions of Sondheim's shows (they get the info from his licensing houses), and at last count there were NONE scheduled for '06! So it's not just me.

Editor's Note: Oh, how I wish the Sondheim Review was or had a blog! I can't remember to go back to sites I like, they need to have an RSS feed. And I don't need another paper magazine coming to my house.
And "The Frogs" -- yeah, whatever. Not my cup of tea, and I can't say Stephanie's beating the drum for it, either. Not everything Sondheim touched was gold, and "Frogs" and "Saturday Night" are the dross in his jewel box. (Well, actually, I think "Saturday Night" has a superior score to two other recent (ish) vintage SS musicals which shall remain nameless.)

You know what IS rarely-produced Sondheim? FOLLIES!!!! One of my all-time favorite musicals. Unfortunately, the Bay Area is one of the only places where is HAS been produced (twice, I believe, at AMTSJ). And of course, we'd have to do that one "big" and that's beyond us right now.

Editor's Note: Yes, AMTSJ has done Follies twice now. But one of my favorite albums is my recording of the Carnegie Hall Follies concert, probably 20 years old or so. As far as I knwo they did have a few show girls traipsing around, but didn't do it all that big. I would love to hear Follies sung unamplified, personally. As you may know, seeing anything at the CPA in San Jose is like watching the action, but listening to it on the radio. The amplification is horribly non-directional. Just disembodied voices. Back to Greg:
I'd also -- you should pardon the expression -- kill to do "Assassins." One of my favorite of his scores. But also not rarely-produced, and done locally at least twice. This year sees at least 12 productions already scheduled nationally (almost as many as Sweeney Todd!) Speaking of ST, if that were rarely-done, I'd -- ahem -- also kill to do it, especially having seen the new revival version (in its original British production) which is so wonderful. And "A Little Night Music" is on my short list of five all-time favorites, but of course it's a hit that's been locally well covered. Were "Into the Woods" and "Sunday in the Park" not well-loved and well-and-often produced, I'd do either one in a heatbeat,too.

And "Waltz" -- well, we know that story...

So that about covers it for Sondheim for us ....

Editor's Note: Yes, I'd say Assassins, Sweeney, Into the Woods, Sundayand Little Night Music have been regularly produced around here.

Anyway, fun to get Greg's show by show assessment of Sondheim. We share many favorites in common.

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