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Sondheim's Early Life and Career

As part of his 80th birthday celebrations, Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim looks back over his life and work, with Donald Macleod. The result is a fascinating retrospective of half a century of creativity, with the artist himself as tour guide. Along the way, he explodes a few myths about the inner workings of musical theatre.
In the first of the week's programmes, Sondheim talks about his childhood, his parents' divorce, his near-adoption by the Hammerstein family and his apprenticeship with Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist of Oklahoma! Then there's the rollercoaster ride of his early career: his first, abortive Broadway show; two amazing breaks, when he was commissioned to write the lyrics for first West Side Story, then Gypsy; his unhappy collaboration with Richard Rogers; and his major creative breakthrough with Company, a musical with situations and characters but no conventional plot, and the first appearance of characteristic Sondheim subject-matter - the virtual impossibility of forming good relationships. As one British critic observed, "It is extraordinary that a musical, that most trivial of forms, should be able to plunge as Company does, with perfect congruity, into the profound depths of human perplexity and misery.".

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Mon 26 Jul 2010 12:00

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