Today we celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 88th year of being alive.
The 2011 Lincoln Center production of Sondheim’s Company starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, and Stephen Colbert, et al., was the inspiration for the Filmed Live Musicals database. During an interview taped for the cinema screening, producer Ellen M. Krass claimed it had been difficult to get funding to film Company because investors had not heard of a filmed live musical.
Who were these people?! Had they not grown up watching the original Broadway production of Into the Woods on VHS or DVD? Were they oblivious to the taping of Sunday in the Park with George? Or Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd?
As a result of watching Company, I wrote my Masters Thesis on filmed live musicals. Several years later, not a day went by when I wasn’t thinking about it. The Filmed Live Musicals was database was born.
With 20 entries spanning 11 different musicals, Stephen Sondheim has more musicals in the Filmed Live Database than any other composer. For comparison’s sake, Gilbert and Sullivan have 8 entries, Dan Coggin has 6 entries for the Nunsense series, and Andrew Lloyd Webber (who is also celebrating his birthday today) has 4 entries.
In the extraordinary interview Face to Face: Stephen Sondheim (available to stream on BroadwayHD), Sondheim stated “I’m very into film technique and its application to the stage.” If I ever get the chance to meet Sondheim, when I’m done losing my mind, I would love to know about his involvement, or encouragement, in the live filming of his musicals.
To honor of Sondheim’s birthday, here are all the musicals he has written, or contributed to, that have legally filmed live for public distribution. Note that the dates refer to the year the production was filmed, not the year the musical was written.
Into the Woods
Merrily We Roll Along
Putting it Together
Sunday in the Park with George
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Happy birthday Sondheim. May your day be filled with color and light.