This has been my cover photo since I saw the City Center revival of “Sunday”, 4 years ago. It is a photo of the lobby signage. It is my favorite Sondheim lyric, from the show that changed my life when I first saw it in 1983. It represents my belief in the transcendence of art as communication.
I have so many. But these are the 2 standouts:
- Susan Perlmutter running up to me in our high school corridor, in 1974, waving the album of “Company” in my face, saying, “We have to do this as a student production!” And we did. I directed it, and played Bobby. And she played Joanne. I think she just really wanted to sing, “Ladies Who Lunch“. And who can blame her? Though, if you’ve seen the movie “Camp“, you’ll know what it’s like for a 16-year-old to be singing that song.
I think we were the second high school in the country to do it. It is a great credit to our school, and to our drama and music teachers, that I don’t believe I ever heard one word of caution or censorship.
The whole cast is still close, 47 years (!) later. It was a pivotal moment for us all.
It was my introduction to Sondheim.
It might seem just as ludicrous for a 16 year old boy to be singing “Being Alive“. But I knew, even then, that there was something in that song that spoke to me. Suddenly, I felt that someone understood me, the part of me that I kept hidden from the rest of the world. And I wasn’t so alone.
2. And, in 1983, a guy I was dating took me to four plays in four nights for my birthday. (I know, what a mensch!) The last was “Sunday in the Park with George“. We couldn’t get up from our seats afterwards, we were so moved. And, once again, I felt as if Sondheim was looking directly into my heart, and touching something nobody else had ever seen.
Out on the street, a man came up to us, asking if we understood what we just saw. His wife was probably gushing over it, and he didn’t get it. So of course he approached the two gay guys who were bawling.
It was at that moment I understood that there were those in this world who “get it” and those who don’t.
We are so fortunate to be among those who get it: the visual artists, the performers, the composers, the writers, the directors, the appreciators, the creatives, the visionaries.
RIP Mr. Sondheim. You got it, and you gave it right back to us, helping us each to feel just a little bit less lonely in the world.
“No one is alone.”
When it comes down to it, everything is a Sondheim lyric.
I’ll drink to that.