R.I.P. Stephen Sondheim

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:

  1. 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.

About bdwardbos

Writer (plays, essays, memoir, blogs), actor (theater, film, TV), teacher, HIV/AIDS educator, cat whisperer
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15 Responses to R.I.P. Stephen Sondheim

  1. Nancy Mooslin says:

    Perfectly said Bruce! Thank you so much!


  2. Sam says:

    I have tears of sadness for the loss( childhood innocence and what not along with his death) but also tears of joy remembering being part of that “Company”


  3. Harry Breaux says:

    Bravo!, Bruce. Well thought, well written! 🌹


  4. Hammer, Cheryl says:

    Great memories. I am very grateful we already have tickets to Company – not Sorry-Grateful – but purely grateful. I absolutely love his work. When I saw the wonderful and long NYT obit on Friday night, Ken predicted it would be front page above the fold the next day and he was right. Now I’ll have to go through “Look, I Made a Hat” and “Finishing The Hat” which we’ve owned for years. With all best regards and Chanukah Sameach.

    Cheryl P. Hammer CFP ®, ChFC, CLU Financial Consultant Equitable Advisors 1290 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10104 (212) 408-2028 Phone http://www.cherylhammer.net

    [cid:image001.jpg@01D7E457.C79530D0] [cid:image006.png@01D7E457.CBB25A30] [cid:image007.png@01D7E457.CBB25A30]

    Please note my new email address is Cheryl.Hammer@equitable.com. I will no longer be receiving messages at my AXA address as of Sept. 25, 2020.

    There is no greater compliment than to refer me to your friends. To learn more about my business and obtain forms, please visit my website: http://www.cherylhammer.net Securities offered through Equitable Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI & TN). Investment advisory products and services offered through Equitable Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Annuity and insurance products offered through Equitable Network, LLC. Equitable Network conducts business in CA as Equitable Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC, in UT as Equitable Network Insurance Agency of Utah, LLC, in PR as Equitable Network of Puerto Rico, Inc. Equitable Advisors and Equitable Network are affiliated companies and do not provide tax or legal advice. Representatives may transact business, which includes offering products and services and/or responding to inquiries, only in state(s) in which they are properly registered and/or licensed. Your receipt of this e-mail does not necessarily indicate that the sender is able to transact business in your state. For more information about Equitable Advisors, LLC you may visit https://equitable.com/crs to review the firm’s Relationship Summary for Retail Investors and General Conflicts of Interest Disclosure. CA Insurance Lic. # OD93179


    • bdwardbos says:

      Thank you for that wonderful comment, Cheryl. Yes, i’ve been in a Sondheim wormhole for a couple of days now, watching a lot of video clips. I’ve owned “finishing the hat“ for a long time, but I never got the second book. I think it’s time now. 😎
      I probably mentioned to you at the time, but I saw the very final performance on March 11, 2020, the night before Broadway shut down. Despite the feeling of anxiety in the air everywhere, it was enthralling and exciting evening. You will love it.
      I’m going to a screening of the new “west side story“ tomorrow evening, with a talkback with the cast, including Rita Moreno. I’m getting my tissues ready. 😢


  5. patriciarogers8757 says:

    Interesting Bruce…but makes sense he would have such an impact on your career and life! P



  6. banksinc@juno.com says:

    Thanks for posting this touching and true message. Bob Banks Thank you, Bob Banks


    • bdwardbos says:

      Thank you so much, Bob. And thank you for your card, as always. I can’t wait to see you in June! We can talk closer to that time, and discuss what we would like to do. ❤️


  7. joeforbrich1 says:

    Bruce, your pure enjoyment and appreciation of art is an inspiration to me, because I often find myself analyzing the work, or feeling competitive, and sometimes they feel like the same response. I want to learn to sit back and let it affect me the way it does you.


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