Interest in Stephen Sondheim's music, books and performances soars after his death

Stephen Sondheim’s music streams have increased by over 500%. New York’s Drama Book Shop sold the first volume of its collected lyrics....


Stephen Sondheim’s music streams have increased by over 500%. New York’s Drama Book Shop sold the first volume of its collected lyrics. And nearly 5,000 people entered a lottery to win tickets to weekend performances for a sold-out series of “Assassins.”

Since the unexpected death of one of the most important writers in the history of musical theater, interest in his work has increased.

“There is an even greater demand to see Sondheim’s work, and we have been feeling the benefits,” said Chris Harper, one of the lead producers of the cover of “Society”, One of Sondheim’s most acclaimed musicals, which opens on Broadway Thursday. “What’s also been quite amazing to watch is that the audience is listening a lot more carefully, and it feels like a much richer and deeper experience.”

Sondheim deceased, against all odds, on November 26, at the age of 91; the cause of death was cardiovascular disease, according to his death certificate. Broadway theaters decided to dim their lights on Wednesday night for a minute in his honor.

Sondheim’s popularity experienced highs and lows during his lifetime, and many of his shows did not achieve commercial success. But much of his work is now frequently performed, and its importance to the art form is undisputed; on Sunday he was greeted by President Biden, who noted, “Stephen was in a class of his own as a songwriter and lyricist.”

Evidence of a peak in appetite for work at Sondheim is everywhere.

Take, for example, the Off Broadway cover of “Assassins, ”Directed by John Doyle and currently airing on the Classic Stage Company in Lower Manhattan. Production was sold out before Sondheim’s death, but now the number of people regularly entering a digital lottery hoping to win $ 15 tickets is skyrocketing. And the 5,000 or so people looking for tickets to the weekend shows face long chances: the theater can only seat 196 people.

“We are certainly seeing an increase in interest since his death,” said Phil Haas, director of marketing and communications for the association. “It’s hard to judge the exact amount as the show is sold out and has been sold out for some time, but we have seen more people joining our lottery, more people waiting on the cancellation line and people waiting. Longer. “

Then there is the Drama bookstore, a specialty store in Midtown that carries scripts and other theater-related publications. Needless to say, Sondheim has always been popular there, but now even more.

“We almost immediately ran out of stock and had to place a new order. “Finish the hat, ‘”Said Pete Milano, who oversees the store’s operations, referring to the first volume of lyrics collected by Sondheim. After Sondheim’s death, the store gathered much of their Sondheim material for display near the entrance, and now the second volume of Sondheim’s lyrics, “See I made a hat», Sells strongly, just like the texts of the musicals that he co-wrote.

“It’s not just one, but across the board which was nice to see,” said Milano. “Plus a lot of people talk about him when they walk in.”

Online, Sondheim’s music streams soared 523% in the United States in the week following his death, according to MRC Data, a tracking service that powers the Billboard charts.

At the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, a new display Sondheim’s memorabilia – letters he wrote to prominent artists as well as set models and sketches of some of his shows – were mounted in response to his death. And on Instagram, a new account named @sondheimletters was created to collect and display letters Sondheim wrote to fans as well as collaborators.

The opening of “Company”, for a re-genreed production directed by Marianne Elliott that stars Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone, turns out to be a hot ticket – among those expected are Meryl Streep and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

And there are other productions of Sondheim shows in the works. The reminders! program in downtown New York had previously announced that it planned a two-week series of “Into the Woods” this coming May, with public school students and seniors joining Sara Bareilles, Christian Borle, Heather Hedley and Ashley Park in the cast; last week recalls! announced that the production will now be dedicated to Sondheim, who wrote the music and lyrics.

“I heard some of the performers involved, who cry as they listen to his music again and get ready for their roles,” said the Encores! artistic director, Lear deBessonet, who directs the production “In the woods”. “It’s a moment of grace, to celebrate Steve and all he’s brought to this world.”

MasterVoices, a New York-based choir, is planning a concert version of the rarely staged “Anyone can whistle”In March at Carnegie Hall, with Vanessa Williams. Barrington Theater Company, in the Berkshires, announced on Tuesday that he would produce “A Little Night Music” next summer, directed by Julianne Boyd in his last season as artistic director of this theater.

And New York theater workshop, an Off Broadway nonprofit, is set to confirm plans for a production of “Merrily We Roll Along”, directed by Maria Friedman, by the end of next year.

Plus, of course, the Steven Spielberg-directed remake of “West Side Story”, Which Sondheim wrote the lyrics, already generates rewards buzz before its release on Friday. (“I think it’s just awesome,” Sondheim said of the film in a meeting a few days before his death. He added: “The good thing is that people who think they know about the musical are going to have some surprises.”)

A film version of “Follies” is also in the works; the script is “under development,” according to a spokesperson for production company Heyday Films.

Ben Sisario contributed to this report.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Interest in Stephen Sondheim's music, books and performances soars after his death
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