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Monday, February 29, 2016

Road Show


How fortunate that I live in the Washington DC area and get to see more Sondheim shows than anyone living now in New York City. At places during this rarely produced musical, I did wonder where the "Road" was leading, but the last 15 minutes really pulled itself together and made everything work.

Not having seen all of Sondheim's musicals, I don't know for sure if this is the first time he presented a gay romance in any of his work, but it is the first time I've seen him do it. The song "The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened," sung between an older man and his younger lover, is a blatant reference to his own life. I cannot help but shiver at the association. And the climactic confessional song about family --- that years and people come and go but one is forever stuck with his family --- says it all. That's what everything comes down to.

I can see why this doesn't suit Broadway, and I can see why critics feel mixed about it, but Road Show as Sondheim's last musical only added to my love for him. It may not be a masterpiece, but it's intimate and personal and, as such, does not cater to anyone. Why should he, at the end of a Shakespearean career?

The music. Oh the music. Can someone please do an instrumental recording of the complete Sondheim? Over and again during the show, I was drawn away from the story and lyrics by the lone piano tune that dominated the production, with an occasional fiddle. It's catnip to me. Inside I was twitching with delight.

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