The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia

Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2021. 752p. ISBN 9781538115862. $135. REF
Assembling this comprehensive compendium of Stephen Sondheim (b. 1930)—one of the most widely regarded and important figures in 20th-century musical theater—was no small task. Pender, a theater critic who has written extensively about Sondheim for years, makes an impressive effort to do justice to his subject in a single hefty volume. Alphabetically arranged entries cover Sondheim’s work (Into the Woods; Company; Follies), his collaborators (Larry Gelbart) and influences (Oscar Hammerstein), and people who performed in his shows (Elaine Stritch; Angela Lansbury). Pender supplements each entry with references for readers who want to go even deeper into the scholarship.
VERDICT Pender’s expansive reporting on Sondheim’s productions, cohorts, and collaborators goes beyond biography to give readers a wider historical view of American musical theater. The book is ostensibly a reference work aimed at enthusiasts (of which Sondheim has many), but casual theater and performing arts fans will find much to appreciate as well.
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