PERFORMING ARTS

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park with George

Farrar. Aug. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780374200091. $40. THEATER
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Director, playwright, and screenwriter Lapine’s vivid oral history details the creation of the musical Sunday in the Park with George, for which Lapine wrote the book and Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics. Drawing on interviews with 40 people involved in the show, including cast members Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, stage managers, designers, and Sondheim himself, Lapine recalls both excitement and skepticism: Would a musical based on a painting, especially one by Georges Seurat, resonate? The narrative shines when Lapine and Sondheim reflect on their weekly planning meetings in 1982. A particular highlight of this book are its reproductions of original notes and sketches, photographs of cast and crew, and the musical’s full script. Theater lovers will be drawn in by the details: casting and funding the original off-Broadway production in 1983; nerve-racking Broadway previews in 1984; several Tony nominations; and the success of “Finishing the Hat,” as sung by Patinkin. Lapine more than succeeds at putting together the four-decade narrative of the production.
VERDICT Beyond its obvious appeal to Broadway fans, this insider guide to creating art, including making mistakes and accepting criticism, will spark the interest of aspiring artists and writers.
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