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Sondheim!

A summer festival showcases the wit and artistry of the musical-theater master, drawing "nuts" from all over

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While another hundred people just got off of the bus

And are looking around

At another hundred people who got off of the plane

And are looking at us

Who got off of the train

And the plane and the bus . . .

 

And so my conversion was complete, accomplished in accord with that hoary truism of spiritual growth: when the nut is ready, the teacher appears.

 

stephen sondheim has had a cult following practically from the time he was a schoolboy pianist on Manhattan’s Central Park West, scampering through the “Flight of the Bumblebee” with his speedy right hand. Over the past half century, a period in which the now 72-year-old composer has written music and words for some 500 songs and more than a dozen major musicals on such far-flung subjects as the Westernization of Japan and the psychopathology of revenge in a 19th-century London barbershop, Sondheim has been embraced by a small army of fanatics. Music professors, therapists and aspiring composers pore over his work. There’s hardly an internal rhyme or hemidemisemiquaver that hasn’t been parsed in the quarterly journal, The Sondheim Review. Web sites like sondheim.com are filled with the impassioned chat of devotees discussing the life and work of the man they call “the master.” As New York magazine once asked, “Is Stephen Sondheim God?”

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