Legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim has confirmed he’s working on a brand new musical. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Sondheim revealed that he still writes despite being 90 years old now.
The new musical is called Square One and could be coming to Broadway soon!
The 91-year-old songwriter said: “I’ve been working on a show for a few years with a playwright called David Ives, and it’s called Square One and we read it last week and we were encouraged – so we’re going to go. ahead and hopefully we’ll do that next season. “
Actor Nathan Lane had revealed a day earlier during an interview with TODAY that he was involved in the “very exciting” reading of Sondheim’s new work. He also said that Bernadette Peters – who has appeared in Sondheim musicals such as Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George – was also playing.
Stephen Sondheim also spoke about the upcoming West Side Story film during his interview with Stephen Colbert. Sondheim calls the film “terrific” and that fans of the musical can expect “real surprises”.
Stephen wrote the lyrics for West Side Story which opened on Broadway in 1957. The new film adaptation is directed by Steven Spielberg and hits theaters on December 10, 2021.
West Side Story
Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story takes classic love tragedy to the streets of New York City in the mid-20th century. With the Montagues and Capulets replaced as rival gangs the Jets and Sharks who come from different ethnic backgrounds. In this story, one of the former Jets, Tony, falls in love with Maria, who happens to be the sister of Sharks chief Bernardo.
The show debuted on Broadway in 1957 and a film adaptation quickly followed in 1961. Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story alongside Leonard Bernstein, who wrote the music. Many of the musical numbers in the series are now theater classics, including “Maria”, “Tonight”, “America” and “I Feel Pretty”.
In December 2021, a new film adaptation of the series will be released under the direction of Steven Spielberg!
In 1959, Ethel Merman starred in Gypsy: A Musical Fable on Broadway. Now known as “Gypsy,” the musical has Stephen Sondheim working as a lyricist with Jule Styne to write the tunes. The book is by Arthur Laurents and is based on the 1957 memoir of Gypsy Rose Lee, an American striptease artist.
The main focus of the show is Gypsy’s mother Rose, who in the musical is an incredibly arrogant stage mom. The show features fantastic numbers including “Everything’s Coming up Roses”, “Let Me Entertain You” and “Rose’s Turn”. There have been numerous covers of the show that would portray legends of the theater as Mama Rose, including Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Imelda Staunton.
There have been two film adaptations of the series, including the 1993 TV movie starring Bette Midler as Rose.
1970 saw the opening of Stephen Sondheim’s first collaboration with director Hal Prince, who was the musical company. This musical revolves around Robert, a single man in his thirties who can’t seem to be able to engage in a relationship. The musical was one of the first to deal with true adult themes. The show’s music is distinctly Stephen Sondheim as the opening number begins with the dissonance of calls to Bobby.
The show got an incredible score from the start with its distinct opening on its brilliant “Getting Married Today” numbers, the iconic “Ladies Who Lunch” and the brilliant 11am “Being Alive” number.
There have been a few covers of this show, but most recently it was the West End revival of 2018 where Rosalie Craig played the role of a gender-swapped Bobbie. The revival was slated to open on Broadway in 2020 with the return of Patti and Katrina Lenk in the lead role.
A theater that once housed Weismann’s follies between the two world wars is now threatened with demolition. Former performers gather to pay homage to the old building in which they performed. The show explores the two hapless former showgirls with their respective partners.
With incredible songs including “Broadway Baby”, “Too Many Mornings” and “Losing my Mind”, Follies presents itself as a beautiful musical.
A little night music
Set in Sweden in 1900, A Little Night Music tells the stories of several couples who spend “a weekend in the countryside”. Much of the music in the show is set to the beat of the waltz.
There have been many productions of this show, but one of the most recognizable would be the 1995 revival performed by the National Theater. The production starred Judi Dench as Desiree and includes her phenomenal performance of “Send in the Clowns”, which was the perfect marriage of brilliant writing and phenomenal acting!
Sweeney Todd: Fleet Street Barber Demon
In 1979, Stephen Sondheim’s most lyrical show, Sweeny Todd, premiered on Broadway. Compared to many of Sondheim’s other works, this has gotten much darker as it tells a story of murder, revenge, and cannibalism! While Sweeney Todd’s original tales originate from Victorian fiction, Sondheim’s version is based on a 1973 play by Christopher Bond.
The show opens with the brilliant “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and has other brilliant songs such as “The Worst Pies in London” and “A Little Priest”. The show won a Tony Award and an Olivier Award for Best Musical as well as a Film Adaptation in 2007!
Sunday at the park with George
Sunday in the Park with George was Stephen Sondheim’s first collaboration with director James Lapine. The story is inspired by the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and its painter George Seurat.
The original production opened on Broadway in 1983 and starred Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. The show features some great songs including “Sunday” and “Finishing the Hat”, the latter song also being the title of Sondheim’s 2010 annotated lyric book.
A revival starring Jake Gyllenhaall as George opened on Broadway in 2017, production is slated to move to the West End later this year, but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the woods
Sondheim’s upcoming collaboration with James Lapine would bring together the fairy-tale worlds of the Brothers Grimm, including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. The show was a success and managed to win a few Tony Awards despite competing against the Phantom of the Opera.
For many of us, the phrase “Once upon a time” will instantly make us think of the start of this show’s brilliant prologue. The show is a lot of fun and includes the songs “Giant in the Sky”, “On the Steps of the Palace” and the beautiful final number “Children Will Listen”.
In 2014, Disney released a film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden and Anna Kendrick.
“Come here and kill a president!” In 1990, Assassins opened Off-Broadway. The show is in a semi-reviewed format and is set in the style of an American carnival, the characters are all people in history who attempted to assassinate the President of the United States. The Balladeer recounts that all of the assassins recount how they succeeded or failed in killing the president of their respective period.
The show may be one of Sondheim’s lesser-known works, but it still packs a punch with the song “Unworthy of Your Love” popular among theater fans.
While the original production met with mixed reviews, the 2004 Broadway revival fared better and received five Tony Awards, including Best Cover of a Musical.