Stephen Sondheim on Writing for Musicals


“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”
– Stephen Sondheim

A dwarf can see farther than a giant if the dwarf stands on the giant’s shoulders. With that idea I turn to the mind of Stephen Sondheim for insights into creating new works for musical theater.

I also have the great gift that one of my current co-workers has worked with Sondheim and will purportedly give me more insight into his work habits and ideas.

Here are my favorite excerpts from the Stephen Sondheim interview posted at:

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Fiddler on the Roof Character Motives

Recently I’ve been watching quite a few Broadway musicals to see elements that I like and dislike in each. My co-workers have enjoyed very much watching me go into video stores in China and say “Excuse me, where are you musicals?” And everytime they bring me CD’s of Western pop artists. In fact, a local guide has told me there is no way to explain “Broadway musical” to a video shop owner here in China – they don’t understand what it is.

So my friends say “Broadway musicals? Why don’t you ask them where the Barbara Streisand section is?” Yeah, very funny guys. I’ve got a friend back home who says “I hate musicals. They don’t make any sense. I like plays, they’re more real.” Then he asks me, “Do you like musicals?” And my reply is, “I HAVE to like musicals. After all, I’m a musician, I need to work!” But truth is, I love the cheeziness of musicals. I think it’s a kick.

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Reactions to Barack Obama in China


I’m not very much into politics. Partly because I have heard too many political rantings from people in my life. Armchair quarterbacks spouting off all the absolute truths of how things are, so convinced of how brilliant they are. I used to ask what they were doing about it, and get no fulfilling answer. They would vote in a presidential election, and that’s it. No time spent lobbying, no donations to special interest groups, no real world time devoted to their rantings. It bores me. Save it for the local Irish pub.

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