Saturday, March 19, 2005

Saturday in the Park with XMRadio

I am a Sondheim junkie. We are a strange and passionate breed--Joss Whedon was inspired to do "Once More with Feeling" on Buffy in no little part because he too is a Sondheim junkie. Stephen Sondheim is the only musical theatre composer/lyricist who can create a show that gives me goose bumps all the way through (Pacific Overtures) or has me in such tears that I have to sit in my seat for ten minutes before I left the theatre, lest I be mugged on the way home (Passion). Don't even get me started on Sweeney Todd.

Sondheim turns 75 on Tuesday. NYC's Symphony Space (a block and a half from my old apartment in Manhattan) annually do a "wall-to-wall" program--a full day of music and talk by and about their featured composer. It's a free program, and runs from 10 am to 11pm, and people are expected to stay for only part of it--apparently they move something like 3-4,000 people through the course of the day. And XM Radio, bless them, ran the whole thing today. Had I been living in New York I would have been sleeping out front the night before to get in; as it is, I listened to parts of it (thanks to my bud Claire, who called to alert me to this. The show is over now, but XM is re-running bits as I listen ("Joanna" from Sweeney Todd, one of the more glorious pieces of music I know).

I think my favorite part (other than the panel discussion with Frank Rich, Sondheim, and Joss Whedon, which I caught only a few minutes of) was listening James Lipton (that guy from Inside the Actor's Studio, who is also the creative director of Symphony Space, and was announcing the show) doing the "Invocation" from The Frogs,:

"Please don't fart. There's very little air, and this is art."

Happy Birthday, Steve.


Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

"The Frogs" was first performed at Yale the summer of 1974, in the swimming pool of the Payne Whitney gymnasium. I badly wanted to see it, but school ended before its premier, and there was no way I could justify hanging around New Haven a week or two just to see a play.

I remember someone telling me about actors in bathing suits rehearsing in the pool, trying to kick in synchrony while reciting "Brek-kek-kek-kek-kek." It must have been memorable.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Last year, SG was in a musical review called "Secret Sondheim," a show combining some of Sondheim's lesser known works, including several numbers from "The Frogs." I still think the "Invocation" is the best--"Gods of the Theatre, Smile on Us! You who look down on actors--and who doesn't?--bless this yearly festival and smile on us!"

I understand that "The Frogs" finally made it to Broadway last year (at least to Lincoln Center). Minus the swimming pool. I too have heard that the 1974 premiere was remarkable.

8:17 AM  

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