INTERVIEW: Sondheim in AMERICAN THEATRE

FINISHING THE HAT

To purchase Stephen Sondheim's FINISHING THE HAT, click on the image above.

American Theatre has published a really interesting interview with Stephen Sondheim in this month’s edition of the journal. Titled “A Playwright in Song”, the interview deals with his work, his influences, the dramatic language of musicals, pop and rock music, hip-hop, directors, his writing methods and the future of the theatre, about which he states:

It’s an interesting read – enjoy it!

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4 Responses to INTERVIEW: Sondheim in AMERICAN THEATRE

  1. Mungojerrie_rt says:

    Stephen Sondheim said:
    It’s very unpopular to say, but I don’t think that rock lends itself to theatre, to storytelling. It lends itself to concerts, and that’s what a lot of musicals are today: concerts. The range of expressivity is very limited, so you’re limited to certain kinds of emotions and songs.

    I have to say, I do not think this is right at all. Rock has as much potential for emotion, story, character, humour and drama as any other style of music. I think maybe he is forgetting that rock used in musicals is far more complicated and varied and expressive than the type you usually get in rock bands.

    But then again, he earlier said:

    Rock didn’t come in until I was in my mid-twenties, so I’m a generation out of it, which is why I don’t write it and why it has no meaning to me.

    So I would say he simply does not understand rock, and therefore, assumes that it is weak in expression (expressivity is not a word), rather than he simply cannot interpret and/or connect with it as those a decade or more younger can.

  2. Aleksander Aarnes says:

    I think you misunderstood him. The way I interpret it is that rock does not LEND itself to theatre, not that it is impossible, because Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice proved him wrong with Jesus Christ Superstar! But how many other musicals have integrated rock with success?

    The difference between rock and the monodic style Sondheim uses, is that the monodic sound suits musical theatre beautifully, but rock isn’t made for musicals. Therefore it is harder to integrate the sound into theatre.

  3. David Fick says:

    I think there is also some selective quoting and interpretation being done here. Although Sondheim does indeed say that he feels that rock does not lend itself to musical theatre storytelling, but he says quite a bit more than just that in the interview, including that it can be done but that ‘it’s rare, ’cause it’s hard.’

  4. Mungojerrie_rt says:

    I don’t see how any style of music can be more made for musicals than another. The music is made to serve the story. I see no reason one can be said to do this better than another. A few example of other successes:

    • Evita
    • Tanz Der Vampire
    • Elisabeth
    • Little Shop of Horrors
    • The Wiz
    • Paris

    Theses are but a few examples.

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