March 22, 2010

A digression...

I'm allowing myself a digression today, a digression from blogging about writing to blogging about Broadway.

I was raised on Rogers and Hammerstein.  I danced to Lerner and Lowe.  I watched the movie versions of every Cole Porter.  My understanding of Broadway came, however, the first time I watched Sondheim.  

At first hearing I said "What's this crap?"  I had been so indoctrinated to formulaic music.  But then I realized that Sondheim made people think.  I was used to just feeling.  I first heard (like everyone mostly did) his lyrics in West Side Story.  I was paying attention to Bernstein but those lyrics, how they stole into my consciousness.  I missed Anyone Can Whistle (it flew by so fast) but then, just before I married (probably bad timing) I saw the original Company.

Who was this man?  Where did he come from?  How did he gain entry to my brain?  Forty years later I would see the revival of Company for my sixtieth birthday and I could still marvel at the newness of it.
Mr Sondheim, you changed Broadway, you changed the way we think about musicals and, in many ways you wrote the songs that parallel my life.  On the occasion of your Eightieth birthday, thank you for Being Alive.

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