Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Sondheim in a Pandemic

Illustration by Tug Rice.
As probably everyone who reads this blog knows, there was a big ol' online concert Sunday night to celebrate the 90th birthday of Stephen Sondheim. After several false starts and three different YouTube links, we were gifted nearly two and a half hours of impossibly beautiful performances of songs from the Sondheim canon. We wept. We screamed. We asked about Melissa Errico's book of Irish Erotic Art (spoiler: it was a gag cover, and an empty book).

At the end of the night, in talking about Sondheim's work and ethos, host Raul Esparza said, "If you can never get it right, then that also means you can never get it wrong. And if you think about that, it means everything is worth trying."

I rewatched the concert the next day and started trying to build a thread of sequential thoughts relevant to now, keeping to the order of the setlist of the 30+ songs performed (including the overtures for both Follies and Merrily We Roll Along at the top of the evening). Some of this is admittedly a stretch, but, well ... enjoy my FrankenSondheim stream of consciousness pandemicbrain.

"Sondheim in a Pandemic"

And we'll be together tomorrow
And we'll be together on Monday                                   
And we'll be together on April                                       
And Christmas
And next year--
You're right, nothing's fair and it's all a plot
And tomorrow doesn't look so hot.
Right, you better look at what you've got
(Over here, hello?)
There are heroes in the world

(And my garden thrives -- you should see my nectarines)
My windowpane has a lovely view:
An inch of sky and a fly or two.
Why, I can see half a tree
And what more do I need?

With so much to win, there's too much to lose.
Til I'm with you then, I'm with you there.
Keep a tender distance.
It takes care,
It takes patience and fear and despair,
And once we're past, let's hope the changes last.
With so little to be sure of, if there's anything at all,
Thanks for everything we did,
Everything that's past, everything that's over too fast.
None of it was wasted.
This is our family, this is the lot.

Where I'd really like to go
In a year or so?
A girl has to celebrate what passes by.

George looks ahead,
George sees the dark,
George feels afraid.
Where are the people out strolling on Sunday?

At my tiny flat there's just my cat,
A bed and a chair.
The roof, the house and the world you never thought to explore.
And you think of all of the things you've seen,
And you wish that you could live in-between,
But it gives me purpose,
Gives me voice to say to the world:
This is why I live.

I remember days,
Or at least I try.
And at times I think
I would gladly die
For a day of sky.
Can't we just pursue our lives
With our children and our wives,
Til that happy day arrives.
All the wondering what even worse is still in store?

Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be:

Nothing's gonna harm you,
Not while I'm around.
We will fix everything tomorrow,
We've a chance, there's a choice.

How you watch the rest of the world through a window:
He goes walking by, I have to follow him.
(Why are his trousers vermillion?)
See, I've been very perturbed of late, very upset,
Very betwixt and between.
The things that I want, I don't seem to get.
The things that I get -- you know what I mean.
Only cups of tea and history
And someone in a tree.

Take me to the world,
I won't be afraid with you.
You'll hold my hand and know you're not alone.
You shall have the world to keep,
Such a lovely world you'll weep.

Well, maybe next year--
I'll drink to that (x3)

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be.
Notice every tree.
Understand the light.
Concentrate on now.
What's hard is simple,
What's natural comes hard.

Hard to see the light now.
Just don't let it go.
Things will turn out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side.
No one is alone.

Feel how it quivers, on the brink: everything.
Gives you the shivers, makes you think:
There's so much stuff to sing.

Thank you to Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Bill Curran, Raul Esparza, and Paul Wontorek for putting this evening together. And thank you to Stephen Sondheim, for giving us more than we could ever deserve.

Full Set List

Overture, Follies, Stephen Schwartz (I quoted cut song "All Things Bright and Beautiful" above)
Overture, Merrily We Roll Along (I quoted "Now You Know" above)
"There Won't Be Trumpets," Anyone Can Whistle, Sutton Foster
"The Witch's Rap," Into the Woods, Neil Patrick Harris (and Gideon and Harper)
"What More Do I Need?," Saturday Night, Kelli O'Hara
"What Can You Lose?," Dick Tracy, Judy Kuhn
"Johanna," Sweeney Todd, Katrina Lenk
"Marry Me a Little," Company, Aaron Tveit
"It Takes Two," Into the Woods, Beanie Feldstein, Ben Platt
"With So Little to Be Sure Of," Anyone Can Whistle, Brandon Uranowitz
"Children and Art," Sunday in the Park with George, Melissa Errico
"By the Sea," Sweeney Todd, Randy Rainbow
"The Miller's Son," A Little Night Music, Elizabeth Stanley
"Lesson #8," Sunday in the Park with George, Mandy Patinkin
"Broadway Baby," Follies, Maria Friedman
"Giants in the Sky," Into the Woods, Lin-Manuel Miranda
"Loving You," Passion, Lea Salonga
"I Remember," Evening Primrose, Laura Benanti
"No More," Into the Woods, Chip Zien
"Children Will Listen"/"Not While I'm Around," Into the Woods/Sweeney Todd, Josh Groban
"The Flag Song," cut from Assassins, Brian Stokes Mitchell
"Finishing the Hat," Sunday in the Park with George, Michael Cerveris
"The Boy From ...," The Mad Show, Linda Lavin
"The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues," Follies, Alexander Gemignani
"Someone in a Tree," Pacific Overtures, Ann Harada, Thom Sesma, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh
"Take Me to the World," Evening Primrose, Raul Esparza
"Send in the Clowns," A Little Night Music, Donna Murphy
"The Ladies Who Lunch," Company, Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep Audra McDonald
"Move On," Sunday in the Park with George, Jake Gyllenhaal, Annaleigh Ashford
"Anyone Can Whistle," Anyone Can Whistle, Patti LuPone
"No One is Alone," Into the Woods, Bernadette Peters

Coda one: Raul Esparza singing a few lines from "Our Time," Merrily We Roll Along
Coda two: everyone ever singing "I'm Still Here," Follies

No comments:

Post a Comment