Here are a few Stephen Sondheim quotes and moments from this evening’s conversation between Stephen Sondheim and Frank Rich:
"One of my favorite songs is Something’s Coming. It was written in less than 48 hours during early West Side Story rehearsals. The actor playing Tony just didn't have the kind of “weight” that made you want to follow his adventures. But he could sing a 2/4 song better than anybody. So I wrote the song thinking it would give him an opportunity to establish himself on the stage. And give him confidence. And then he would give the rest of the company confidence… and it worked."
"‘Lenny’ Bernstein had a 12 room apartment at the Dakota. It was all big, spacious rooms inside this old-style New York City building that looked like a castle. But his studio… it was the size of a throw rug with a window that looked out on an airshaft. No distractions... There was nothing to do there but work."
"The song I'm Losing my Mind from Follies is a torch song. It started out as a total imitation of Gershwin’s The Man I Love. I knew I wanted a particular kind of song there. And I knew that I wanted to imitate a certain style and feel. So if I was going to imitate, I might as well imitate the best."
"When I write a song, I become an actor… Of course, the song has everything to do with me because I’m writing it. But it also has nothing to do with me. It’s for a specific character in a specific scene in a specific story."
"You have to write about what interests you… and you can’t get interested in something you can’t relate to."
"Two-thirds of all American theater is about yearning for a connection… the stage is home to a whole lot of yearning."
Regarding the song “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George: "Studying the painting, I realized that these people don’t know… they’re going to be immortal… and when I wrote the word “forever…” I cried."
"The only reason to write is to write for love. Write for passion. If you have the privilege of being able to write, then don’t do it for any other reason."
“I like to speak in hyperbole. It’s my favorite language.”