A note while re-listening to the original Broadway cast recording of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George [lucky enough to have seen in New York when it premiered in 1984.] Sondheim, virtuoso of the rhyme and musical reason, in George created what I consider the most seamless first act of a Broadway musical; the contrapuntal aspect of the lyrics still striking after so many years. (And visually, also exquisite.) “Finishing the Hat” remains a singular summary of the creative process. Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters are wonderful. And the score ends, so appropriately, with the words: White: a blank page or canvas …so many possibilities.
[Postscript: Sondheim just released Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes. Ben Brantley’s review in the Times is here. And a subsequent appraisal by another composer/lyricist of some renown, Paul Simon, also in the Times. And yet another appreciation, probably my favorite, by a latecomer to the wonders of Sondheim, business writer Joe Nocera of the Times.]