Stephen Sondheim’s Life in Theater

“THE ONLY REASON to write is out of passion, out of love,” Stephen Sondheim said. “The more you write, the better you get until you are successful, and then,” he laughed, “you might get worse.”

Steven SondheimThe legendary Broadway composer and lyricist reminisced about his 50-year career in a freeform conversation with Frank Rich, op-ed columnist and former drama critic for the New York Times, in Colton Chapel March 8. They discussed Sondheim’s creative process and major works, of which there are many, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Follies, Company, West Side Story, and Gypsy.

Speaking of “Losing My Mind” from Follies and “Being Alive” from Company, America’s greatest living creator of musical theater stressed the importance of staying true to the story and writing songs for particular characters. “The characters are created by the librettist. When I write a song, I get into that character’s feelings and what their role is in the story. It’s all about the character.”

Sondheim and Rich also met with students and faculty in an intimate workshop session. Their appearance was the annual Jones Visiting Lecture.