Boston’s artists pay tribute to ‘true genius’ Stephen Sondheim

Boston’s artists pay tribute to ‘true genius’ Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist driving this sort of mainstays of American culture as Sweeney Todd, Business and Sunday in the Park with George, died Friday at age 91.

Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops, reported in an e-mail to GBH News that American musical theater has lost a giant.

“I suppose I was usually hoping, hoping against hope as he grew inevitably more mature, that he experienced 1 a lot more fantastic operate of art still left in him to share with the environment,” Lockhart wrote in an e-mail to GBH News. “The fact that our minds and hearts now will not be challenged by a further Sondheim get the job done is a hard one particular to appear to grips with.”

Though Sondheim is synonymous with New York — it is the two his birthplace and home to his numerous Broadway hits — the Tony, Grammy, Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner also experienced ties to Boston. His is effective found homes, some even their to start with households, on Boston’s stages, and his get to prolonged into the hearts and minds of the city’s artists.

“Much of Sondheim’s music uncovered its way on to the Pops’ phase above the many years and, notably, his most famous track, ‘Send in the Clowns,’ was penned in a hotel suite in Boston, all through out-of-town tryouts for A Very little Night time Songs,” writes Lockhart.

Sondheim’s marriage with the location started in the late ’40s, when he went to Williams College or university to study songs and composition. A long time later on, Sondheim took edge of Boston’s theater scene exactly where he gave his musicals a trial run. In 1970, Company had its pre-Broadway tryout at Boston’s individual Schubert Theatre. A person calendar year later, the Colonial Theatre was a pre-Broadway venue for Follies, and other will work premiered on Boston levels in advance of relocating on to Broadway.

Spiro Veloudos, making artistic director emeritus at The Lyric Phase Firm of Boston, has directed just about all of Sondheim’s important will work.

“Sondheim affected me the same way Shakespeare influenced me,” Veloudos explained. “They have a extremely distinctive perspective on lifestyle, and that is what drew me to Sondheim. His do the job was like an onion, peel it again and there’s a further layer to it.

“Sondheim explained himself as much more of a playwright than composer,” Veloudos continued. “It’s genuine: each and every track is a perform on to by itself.”

Sondheim’s arrive at goes beyond the most important phase, influencing artists in Boston’s fringe theater scene. Provincetown-dependent Ryan Landry is the founder of the Gold Dust Orphans, a Vaudeville-impressed troupe known for its theatrical mashups, like Murder on the Polar Categorical and Silent Evening Of The Lambs.

“Sondheim is a genius,” Landry claimed. “Almost each and every musical I do, I borrow from Sondheim — his triple rhymes and quadruple rhymes and how he broke the rules — just about anything I do has his affect.”

And Sondheim didn’t just mild up Boston’s theater scene. In the case of the Colonial Theatre, he rallied to retain its lights on.

In 2015, it looked like it was going to be curtains for the historic area when Emerson Faculty viewed as turning it into a pupil action centre.

In an interview with Boston Magazine, Sondheim explained that would be a criminal offense. “I’ve experienced exhibits which attempted out in the Colonial, and it is not only stunning but acoustically 1st-rate, two characteristics which are scarce in tandem, even on Broadway,” he explained at the time. “For these of us concerned in musical theater, it’s a treasure and to tear it down would be not only a decline, but a little something of a criminal offense.”

In the stop, subsequent a petition to save the theater and opposition on social media, Emerson arrived at a extended-term settlement with Ambassador Theater Group to maintain the theater and to return to its famed roots as a premier, pre-Broadway venue for drama.

When Sondheim will stay on as a result of his considerable physique of work, Veloudos states it’s continue to hard to fathom that Sondheim has essentially died. “Even nevertheless he hasn’t done significantly in the last 10 decades, I’m going to skip his perform. I’ll miss waiting around for a new piece of brilliance to occur from him,” Veloudos stated.

Remembering the American master, Lockhart wrote, “One of the true joys of my job is that I get to satisfy, and know, amazing people today. Amazingly proficient musicians, dancers, actors, comedians. Exceptionally intelligent and inspiring leaders. Sporting activities legends. Every person intersects with the Pops. Even so, the hour and a fifty percent that I invested with Sondheim in his Manhattan dwelling home many years ago, speaking about our designs for a under no circumstances-understood Sondheim 70th birthday celebration, ranks as the most memorable personal relationship of my job. The term ‘genius’ is surely overused, but I am confident that Stephen Sondheim was the only real genius I have at any time met.”