The Seckerson Tapes: Stephen Sondheim 80th birthday tribute | Theatre reviews, news & interviews
The Seckerson Tapes: Stephen Sondheim 80th birthday tribute
Luminaries from Broadway and the West End celebrate the master of musical theatre
Commissioned by Josef Weinberger Ltd on the occasion of Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday today, In Good Company is a unique three-part collage of intimate conversations I have had with some of Sondheim’s closest colleagues and collaborators. Michael Cerveris, Ted Chapin, Barbara Cook, Daniel Evans, Maria Friedman, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Cameron Mackintosh, Julia McKenzie, Hal Prince, Jonathan Tunick and John Weidman share their experiences, their recollections, and their often very personal insights into what makes this man such a colossus in the world of musical theatre.
Since receiving the commission from Josef Weinberger, this project has been two years in the making. Tracking down and tying down such a busy and illustrious group of interviewees was never going to be easy. And the list could have kept growing had not time called a halt. The brief was initially to produce an 80th birthday gift for Steve – a few friends and collaborators paying their respects. But with each conversation (and roughly nine hours of material was recorded) it became clearer and clearer that Sondheim fans all over the world would relish being privy to material that was initially intended for his ears only. That’s what makes what you will hear over some two-and-a-half hours so special.
These are the personal ruminations of a cast of characters who’ve played a big part in Sondheim’s creative process – both in the preparation and realisation. There are others, of course. Many others. This could have been a three-week - not a three-podcast - event.
The conversations took place in apartments, in dressing rooms, in offices, both in London and New York. There was a gale blowing down Riverside Drive when I dropped in on Barbara Cook; Patti LuPone was prostrate backstage after another gruelling performance as Mama Rose berating amateur photographers in the front stalls; Jonathan Tunick was multi-tasking as ever, emailing scoring sheets whilst talking about them; for producer/director Hal Prince it was another day at the office – all that was missing was the cigar; Cameron Mackintosh called me back into his office having remembered a good one-liner as I was leaving: “You know what’s going to happen,” Steve once said to him, “I’ll get the caché and you’ll get the cash.”
I need to thank Thomas O’Connor for his tireless work in setting all these interviews up and my brilliant producer Bill Lloyd for his technical and mental wizardry. We have the kind of telepathy which comes of working together on BBC Radio 3’s Stage & Screen for six years. Lastly John Schofield and Sean Gray at Josef Weinberger for making it all happen.
- Passion will be staged by the Donmar Warehouse this autumn - check the listings here
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