Sondheim: His Life, His Shows, His Legacy

Black Dog & Leventhal. Sept. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780762482351. $35. BIOG
Two years after Stephen Sondheim’s (1930–2021) death, his music and lyrical legacy are detailed in Silverman’s (The Amusement Park) comprehensive overview of a remarkable career that lasted more than 60 years and touched nearly all the performing arts—television, Hollywood, and, of course, Broadway. While his major Broadway achievements, starting with Gypsy and West Side Story, are discussed, this overview of Sondheim’s genius provides interesting background information and insights into what, at the time, were cutting-edge musicals, including Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, and Company. Even the less commercially successful Merrily We Roll Along and Passion are given their due. Fans of the 1973 whodunit movie The Last of Sheila, which Sondheim wrote with Anthony Perkins, may be interested to discover the duo wrote two more (unproduced) mystery films together. Lavishly illustrated, handsomely produced, and supplemented by many of Sondheim’s own reflections on his artistic vision, there are also many firsthand insights and observations by those who worked with and knew him.
VERDICT This impressive volume is an important biographical addition to collections on musical theater and the Broadway entertainment industry.
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