Finishing the Conversations: Sondheim Listening Opportunities

Back in April and May just after The Sondheim Encyclopedia was published, Bill Rudman, host of Sirius XM’s “On the Aisle” on its On Broadway channel presented a series of conversations with me. If you missed them there, check your local public radio station (a full list here) for “Footlight Parade,” the re-release of our discussions of Sondheim’s career and shows. Two of our four conversations are set to air this weekend (Aug 21-22) and next (Aug. 28-29); check your local listings. There’s one more way to hear what Bill put assembled with lots of musical illustrations: “Footlight Parade” is permanently archived by the Public Radio Exchange (, and you can listen at your convenience.

I hope many of you chose to tune in to the wonderful virtual session from New York City’s Town Hall on Aug. 3. In conjunction with the release of James Lapine’s new book, Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created ‘Sunday in the Park with George,’ the livestreamed event featured Lapine and Sondheim in conversation with actress Christine Baranski; about 30 minutes into the event, they were joined by Sunday’s original stars, Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin. It was so enlightening, and Sondheim was as sharp and insightful as ever.

For another good listen, I urge you to dial up the archived recording of Lapine’s early August conversation with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. They talk about his new book and Sunday, as well as his and Sondheim’s two other collaborations, Into the Woods and Passion. It’s fascinating to hear how they worked together: In his book for the show’s opening scene, Lapine first used the word “dribble” to discuss Dot’s perspiration as George labors to paint her on a hot day. When Sondheim turned that into a song lyric in “Finishing the Hat,” it became “a trickle,” which certainly sounds more vivid and sensual. Lapine also talks about how Sunday’s Act II number, “Children and Art,” explained the overall show. It’s followed by Lesson #8,” which shed light on George’s character.

You can read more about Sunday in the Encyclopedia on pages 539-554. There are also entries about Lapine (266-271), Patinkin (400-404), Peters (406-409), and Baranski (40-42).

Happy listening.

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