Sondheim A Lonely Trailblazer
Stephen Sondheim passed away on November 26 at the age of 91.
Compared with Weber, the musical master who created works such as “Cats” and “The Phantom of the Opera”, Sondheim’s name may not be so loud. He is regarded as the originator of “conceptual musicals”, and he is also regarded as the only figure who can stand up to Weber by the American musical theatre industry. “The Phantom of the Musical” draws an analogy from the film industry, “Compare Sondheim and Weber, the two great musical theatre masters, Weber is like Spielberg or George Lucas, a talented and prodigy. , the works are loved by everyone, and they are galloping on the road of art commercialization at any time. Sondheim is like the eccentric director Woody Allen or Oliver Stone. The works have rich connotations. But it is often obscure and difficult to understand; it has a group of die-hard audiences, but it is only loved by this part of the audience, and there is always a taste of self-appreciation in the bones.”
For this reason, Sondheim is often ridiculed as box office poison. In 1962, his first musical “Spring in the Old City”, which was composed by one person, was a great success and was staged 964 times on Broadway; and “Everyone Can Whistle” two years later suffered a fiasco and only performed 9 games. , was forced to suspend the show 7 days after its premiere. Next, “Partners” won the box office word of mouth; “Fairy Show” lost everything; “Sweeney Todd” won many awards and was very popular; “The Happy Times We Used to” went down after 16 games. files.
Despite its erratic performance at the box office, Sondheim’s artistic achievements need not be overemphasized in terms of awards. The New York Times stated that Sondheim has won 1 Oscar, 9 Tony Awards, 8 Grammy Awards and 1 Pulitzer Prize, and is only one Emmy to complete the highest honor in the American entertainment industry The EGOT Four Slams.
With witty and rhyming lyrics, evocative melodies, and a grasp of unusual themes, Sondheim “reinvented American musical theater in the second half of the 20th century,” according to the Associated Press. Sondheim’s remodeling and transformation of musicals mainly lies in the development of a new genre of musicals called “conceptual musicals”, which is “the concept of abandoning the plot”.
Replacing “traditional plays” with “concepts” may not seem new today, but in the 1960s, when musicals were often seen as a way to relax “for family fun,” the Sondheim initiative , broadening the boundaries of this art form. “Partners” – one of Sondheim’s most distinctive works – is seen as a “conceptual musical”, telling “the story of a single middle-class man who escapes marriage and his five married friends” , breaking the linear narrative of traditional drama. Sondheim said the show can be thought of as “bystander” Robert returning to his apartment on his birthday, immersed in one’s spiritual world, and these gatherings are surreal.
”Sweeney Todd” performed in 1979 may be Sondheim’s most well-known musical in the country. On the one hand, it is related to its adaptation into a film by Tim Burton. It is also a rare Sondheim musical. “Plot” musical, also considered by fans to be the best of the Sondheim-Prince combination a work.
In 1972, Sondheim won the Tony Award for Best Song and Lyrics for a Musical for “Fair Show.” At the awards ceremony, he said, “As I sit down tonight, I’ve been thinking about playwright David Trainer’s comments about the theater industry. He said that theater is the only art form that can recognize the existence of the audience. That’s why theatre never dies. When you’re laughing or crying in front of the screen, the actors still do what they’re supposed to do, but that’s not the case with theatre. That’s why I’m proud of being a theatre man.”