Stephen Sondheim

Falling Back In Love With London Part Two

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After a summer spent working/ mucking about in different European countries I returned to London with a heavy heart, but was determined to learn to love this wet, grey, punishing city again. I’d hit some exhibitions and galleries, and now, as London takes its theatre very seriously, this was my next port of call; making […]

The Mother Of All Stage Mothers

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  In 1957 a woman wrote a memoir biting the hand that fed her. She was Rose Louise Hovick, born in Seattle, and her thrice-married mother Rose changed Louise and her sister June’s birth certificates to avoid child labour laws before dragging them off around the country with an army of virtually kidnapped children to […]

Why ‘Into The Woods’ Makes A Magnificent Movie

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In the early 1930s, George and Ira Gershwin wrote a pair of political satires, ‘Of Thee I Sing’ and ‘Let ‘Em Eat Cake’, which posited a dark future for American politics. They were musicals, and, like ‘Showboat’ (about another hot-potato subject – miscegenation) were unlikely hits. Wordsmiths love sophisticated musicals, an American art form once […]

How The Musicals Gene Helps Creativity

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It’s a weird thing, the musicals gene, it feels unmanly, camp, cheesy – and while it can be truly horrible (I’m no fan of Andrew Lloyd-Webber) there’s something else behind it that no writer should dismiss. As a recent fringe production of the old warhorse ‘Carousel’ proved, there’s grit and truth buried in the best. […]

Neglected Films No.9 – ‘The Last Of Sheila’

There are only a handful of really successful whodunnits on film. I retain a soft spot for ‘Sleuth’ (the original, not the appalling remake) even though advancements in makeup effects have ruined the plot’s big reveal. Who can resist Olivier’s waspish snob asking working-class Michael Caine; ‘And where do you live? Above, behind or below […]

The Flaws That Hold Us Back

Every writer, no matter how brilliant she or he is, eventually becomes aware of the flaws in their work. They’re usually things we can’t do much about because they stem from our personalities, and going against the grain is very difficult. JG Ballard and Arthur C Clarke have often been criticised for not writing more […]

Re:View – ‘Road Show’

Few plays have ever thrown money at the stage like this one; dollar bills literally leak from the characters until the audience is ankle-deep in the stuff. America is on the rise and there’s money to be made for the opportunists. Spanning a period of 40 years, this is the true story of two fortune-seeking […]

‘You Have To Care’

I posted about this book before, but I hadn’t read it then. I have now. I’d put off reading it for a variety of reasons; too demanding to be picked up for a short time, too precious to be wasted in casual skimming, literally and figuratively too heavy. ‘Finishing The Hat’ is an explication by […]

The Half-Finished Hat

Very rarely do I reach out with small baby-grab motions toward a book, moaning softly. Trust me, it’s not a good look. But this one – oh, I’ve been waiting to get my mitts on it for months, and there it was in Foyles, ahead of Amazon! Sondheim’s dissection of his writing is enlightening, riveting […]

Seeing Music

Some days music makes me so excited I just want to run about taking bites out of the world – replaying ‘The Choral Links’ while walking over Waterloo Bridge at sunset filled me with excitement the other night – why is it that some of us are electrified by music and others untouched? I’m trying […]