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Monday, June 30, 2014

Six by Sondheim


James Lepine strung together clips and photographs and interviews with six of his songs. I frowned, a little, at the choice of "Send in the Clown." Perhaps it's my snobbery. Certainly those are not six of MY favorite Sondheim songs. One could argue that the selection is intended to be biographical, not "greatest hits," but then Send in the Clown still does not fit.

The joy is seeing old reels of the original casts of Gypsy and Sunday in the Park and Company and even a black-and-white clip of West Side Story, and young Sondheim playing the piano and singing his own songs. (The film with him directing the original recording of Company was particularly moving.) And of course his interviews over the years. One never gets tired of listening to him talk.

The documentary is almost entirely devoted to his work, with mere scraps of his personal life here and there. A viewer without previous knowledge of Sondheim's biography would probably feel lost or confused. A bit coy, I thought, which is not his style.

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