Finally, following on “Turns”, on the same tape is a documentary on Stephen Sondheim. Now I am an avid Sondheim fan, I believe he is totally brilliant and love everything he has written, everything I am familiar with that is, Merrily We Roll Along, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods, Pacific Overtures etcetera, everything – except – “Sunday In The Park With George!” which I simply can not be getting on with. You would think I could if you listen to Pacific Overtures but I remember a fair amount of the music from that show without having to be prompted. With Sunday In The Park I don’t recall a note and I think that is not what musicals are about especially as Sondheim is pretty adamant about having to think of your audience. And what was this documentary based on? You guessed it. Sunday In The Park, the National Theatre production, also Sondheim teaching in Oxford courtesy of the chair inaugurated by Cameron Mackintosh, most of it seemingly using Sunday In The Park as an example. When I was teaching a class of total ignoramuses in America, in “Intro. To Theatre”, I ended the semester using Sweeney Todd as an example of everything I hope I had taught them over the previous weeks. They loved it. And I love that show. If I were thirty years or so younger I would give my eye teeth to play Sweeney. Even now I would give my eye teeth to direct it. That’s purely metaphorical; I don’t have any eye teeth! I have to admit I didn’t really appreciate Hal prince’s production at Drury Lane and I really have to admit I do not like Tim Burton’s film, not at all, not at all, but I think I might have mentioned that before.
The two other tapes I had taken out for possible viewing were a concert version of “Les Miz” and the film of “Bitter Sweet.” Ah, well, thinks I, we’ve just been watching something from the new master; let’s watch something from an old master, I mean from a previous generation, so I chose The Coward. Wro-ong! Hadn’t got too far into it when I remembered we watched it not all that long ago and it is an appalling MGM production Whatever one may think of Noel’s dialogue and lyrics, a product not just of his but of his time he deserved better treatment than this, from the twee background to the opening credits to Nelson Eddy playing serious, i.e., boring, to Miss MacDonald over-acting and telegraphing everything from a mile off. Maybe it was the hideous costumes she had to wear and the hair style having an effect on her. I doubt we will watch any more of it.
Still on the subject of musicals, I read in The Athens news that the Megaron is hosting a production of a musical based on Shaw’s “The Millionairess” so, as we have the complete plays and the companion prefaces and, as it is a play I had never heard of, I thought I would look it up. Alas, our volumes are not the complete plays after all as they were published in 1934 and this particular play was first produced in 1936. He was pretty prolific was old Shaw.
Still on the subject I also read that Android Lord Webster is offering shares in the sequel to Phantom Of The Opera at twenty five grand a throw. As it is opening not just in London but in various other parts of the globe a whole heap of money is required I reckon, even taking inflation into account. Very different from when he was looking for backers for Cats at fifty pounds a throw. At the time we didn’t have fifty pence let alone fifty pounds otherwise by now we might have made quite a lot of money. Should have borrowed it but then who was to know it would be such a smash hit.
Still on the subject, Chris of course was in A Little Night Music in London which was our introduction to Sondheim and he was also in Cats so we did get something out of that one.
And finally, the original score for Black Maria has at last been found and hopefully will be in our hands in the next few days. And if you don’t know anything about Black Maria, maybe some other time.