by Adam Bakst. @AdamBakst_WUSF .
NEW YORK, NY - While New York state remains sheltered-in-place, and Broadway continues its black out, composer Stephen Sondheim has reportedly taken advantage of the long list of events canceled due to coronavirus and repurposed them as a new batch of fast-paced, highly condensed song lyrics, the celebrated theatre legend confirmed.
“Ok, so, it would start with an unlikely protagonist shouting something like ‘Met Gala, Queens Night Market, St. Patrick’s Day Parade’,” Sondheim said while swiveling over to his piano. “Then, you see, another character would join and start singing over this character like ‘Carnegie Hall Performances, Natural History Museum tours’. While they’re doing that, we have another character on top of this singing ‘Nets Basketball games, MLB Opening Day’ and then another would come in saying ‘I wish, I wish… more than anything’ and then another,” he continued, for an additional 30 minutes.
Traditionally, times of great global pandemic have warranted fresh, inspired art from across the globe. It is rumored that Shakespeare penned King Lear during the bubonic plague, and Julie Taymor had the idea of Spiderman: Turn off the Dark during a bird flu fever dream. However, some were not so sure that the composer’s latest project shares the same creative space.
“I don’t know what Stephen is thinking honestly,” said fellow Broadway icon and Sondheim’s past collaborator, Angela Lansbury. “I think this self-isolation is very hard for him. I know a lot of his songs are very fast with a lot of things clashing together and people yelling over each other, but this… this is literally just a list of events. A long list, but a list nonetheless.”
Still, some big names in the theatre community are excited for Sondheim’s COVID-inspired project.
“I’ll do it,” said Bernadette Peters, longtime friend of Sondheim and former female lead in Sunday in the Park with George, forcing us to clarify that this was not an offer for a role. “I don’t care. I’ll do it.”
At press time, Sondheim added that the latest musical, tentatively titled Lack of Company, is set to premiere “as soon as I have just a few more postponed movies to fill out the 11 o’clock number.”