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Sunday in the Park with George

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim joins Donald Macleod to discuss the painting that he turned into a musical, a tangled web of fairytales and the production Assassins.

Continuing our series in which Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim talks to Donald Macleod. The fourth programme features the musical that grew out of a painting; a tangled web of fairytales; and a positively murderous show about the assassins, and would-be-assassins, of US presidents. The painting in question is Seurat's hugely famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and the work it inspired was the Pulitzer-prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George, a deeply personal show about the joys and the costs of creation. The fairytales are the ones familiar to every child, but in Into the Woods they are woven together in an extraordinarily intricate way, before completely unraveling in the second act. Assassins caused a huge furore when it was unveiled in 1990, not least because it happened to coincide with the opening salvo of the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm - under such circumstances, a show that climaxed with the assassination of JFK was bound to be interpreted as deeply unpatriotic. Sondheim also talks about the logistics of mounting a Broadway production, and the pleasures of "trancing out" during the creative process.

Produced by Chris Barstow.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Stephen Sondheim

    Hello, Little Girl

    Performer: Gregg Edelman (Wolf 1) Performer: Christopher Sieber (Wolf 2) Performer: Molly Ephraim (Little Red Ridinghood) Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • Nonesuch 7559-79686-2.
    • 3.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Color and Light

    Performer: Mandy Patinkin (George, an artist) Performer: Bernadette Peters (Dot, his mistress) Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • RCA RCD1-5042.
    • 3.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Chromolume #7 / Putting it Together

    Performer: Judith Moore (Harriet Pawling, a patron of the arts) Performer: Cris Groenendaal (Billy Webster, her friend) Performer: Charles Kimbrough (Bob Greenberg, the museum director) Performer: William Parry (Charles Redmond, a visiting curator) Performer: Nancy Opel (Betty, an artist) Performer: Robert Westenberg (Alex, an artist) Performer: Dana Ivey (Naomi Eisen, a composer) Performer: Mandy Patinkin (George, an artist) Performer: Kurt Knudson (Lee Randolph, the museum’s publicist) Performer: Barbara Bryne (Blair Daniels, an art critic) Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • RCA RCD1-5042.
    • 12.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Act I Prologue: Into the Woods

    Performer: Tom Aldredge (Narrator) Performer: Kim Crosby (Cinderella) Performer: Ben Wright (Jack) Performer: Chip Zien (Baker) Performer: Joanna Gleason (Baker’s Wife) Performer: Joy Franz (Cinderella’s Stepmother) Performer: Kay McClelland (Florinda) Performer: Lauren Mitchell (Lucinda) Performer: Barbara Bryne (Jack’s Mother) Performer: Danielle Ferland (Little Red Ridinghood) Bernadette Peters (Witch) Performer: Edmund Lyndeck (Cinderella’s Father) Performer: Paul Gemignani (dir)

    • RCA BD 86796.
    • 1.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Another National Anthem

    Performer: James Barbour (Leon Czolgosz) Performer: Michael Cerveris (John Wilkes Booth) Performer: Alexander Gemignani (John Hinckley) Performer: Mary Catherine Garrison (Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme) Performer: Jeffrey Kuhn (Giuseppe Zangara) Performer: Denis O’Hare (Charles Guiteau) Performer: Becky Ann Baker (Sara Jane Moore) Performer: Mario Cantone (Samuel Byck) Performer: Neil Patrick Harris (Balladeer) Performer: Marc Kudisch (Proprietor) Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • PS Classics PS-421.
    • 12.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Take A Look, Lee

    Performer: Michael Cerveris (John Wilkes Booth) Performer: Neil Patrick Harris (Lee Harvey Oswald) Performer: Jeffrey Kuhn (Giuseppe Zangara) Becky Ann Baker (Sara Jane Moore) Performer: James Barbour (Leon Czolgosz) Performer: Denis O’Hare (Charles Guiteau) Performer: Mario Cantone (Samuel Byck) Performer: Alexander Gemignani (John Hinkley) Performer: Mary Catherine Garrison (Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme) Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • PS Classics PS-421.
    • 13.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Something Just Broke

    Performer: Ensemble Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • PS Classics PS-421.
    • 14.
  • Stephen Sondheim

    Everybody's Got the Right

    Performer: Michael Cerveris (John Wilkes Booth) Performer: James Barbour (Leon Czolgosz) Performer: Becky Ann Baker (Sara Jane Moore) Performer: Denis O’Hare (Charles Guiteau) Performer: Jeffrey Kuhn (Giuseppe Zangara) Performer: Mario Cantone (Samuel Byck) Performer: Alexander Gemignani (John Hinckley) Performer: Mary Catherine Garrison (Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme) Performer: Neil Patrick Harris (Lee Harvey Oswald) Musical Direction: Paul Gemignani

    • PS Classics PS-421.
    • 15.

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