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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Charlie Rose – Stephen Sondheim / James Lapine


Stephen Sondheim, Composer/Lyricist
James Lapine, Librettist/Director

Sondheim says you can not make an audience like something, but they have to understand the intention. Preview performances focused on making things clear to the audience.

Sondheim On “Send in the Clowns”


Stephen Sondheim talks about the writting of Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music – with excerpts of the rehearsal with Sally Ann Howes. Insight into Sondheim’s composing process – he says he does not let lyrics or melody get too far ahead of each other during the writing process.

Sondheim says he likes to know how a song will end when he starts it.