Sunday in the Park
I never met Stephen Sondheim but I did have the chance to watch him close up. My sister was a member of the original cast of Company and she snuck me into a few rehearsals. I watched Hal Prince direct and Sondheim talking things over. It was Sondheim’s first show of his own and it was a great success and is about to be revived again. For a few years Sondheim and Prince had almost a show a year and I made a sort of tradition of going to previews on New Year’s Eve. That way I saw a preview of Sunday in the Park with George. At one point the Seurat painting is shown in a giant projection and the song that accompanies it describes all the images. One line goes: ‘That’s the puddle where the poodle did a piddle.’ This is so clever that the audience applauded. People who knew Sondheim told me that the song that was closest to him was ‘Anyone Can Whistle’, where he asks: ‘Why can’t I?’ Tom Lehrer told me that in their youth he was Sondheim’s counsellor at a summer camp in Maine. They did not have much to say to each other. They both have much to say to us.