The American musical is ubiquitous. Sooner or later, all that is popular finds its way into the genre that delivers singing, dancing, singular sensation. Ever since opera buffa drew the local crowds to the town square, promising momentary diversion from war, pestilence, plague, and stench, humans have craved the escape of pure entertainment.
Enter Steven Sondheim.
A boy, born to a woman who loved a man who left her for another. Said child to learn at the feet of the greats – Oscar Hammerstein, Jimmy Hammerstein (Jimmy Hammerstein). Leonard Bernstein.
One would have thought that, bathed in such saturating influence, the young composer would have churned out second rate imitations of the icons who surrounded him. But, there was another factor at play, one that would be profoundly key to what would ultimately distinguish him as the social commentator of the age.
But, to reveal it would give away the heart of the story.
Steven Sondheim, for any musician from any genre, for any poet, for anyone who loves or has loved, for any student of the human condition…….people, you know when you come home from a session with your therapist, and all you can think about is how much money these people make for telling you to breathe deeply when you’re angry? Last weekend, I saw this man’s definitive autobiography, “Sondheim on Sondheim” at the Erie Playhouse. If you are privileged to see any production of this blended retrospective of his work, two full acts which he narrates on accompanying video, be sure to stay until the end. If you do, you will see into a mirror that will show you what you never before realized, feel things that you didn’t even know you needed to or could, and be floored by what is revealed.
As in his very life, the experience will tear you up and put you back together, like nothing else. It’ll be all the therapy you’ll ever need.
© 4/15/16 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.