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Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim

16 December 2010
Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... StephenSondheim is America’s master of musical theatre, as long as we are prepared for the work to be brilliant but not relaxed. His is a voice of solitude struggling to believe in company, and that of a lifelong ...
20 February 1997
Leaving a Doll’s House: A Memoir 
by Claire Bloom.
Virago, 288 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 1 86049 146 4
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... soap opera As the World Turns, and is currently to be seen playing a classy old biddy in Sylvester Stallone’s new movie, Daylight, is a fine illustration of the actress’s fate, as summarised by StephenSondheim: First you’re another sloe-eyed vamp Then someone’s mother Then you’re camp Then you career from career to career. Her experiences also offer female readers a cautionary tale about ...

The Fame Game

Alan Brien

6 September 1984
Hype 
by Steven Aronson.
Hutchinson, 198 pp., £5.95, May 1984, 0 09 156251 1
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Automatic Vaudeville 
by John Lahr.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 434 40188 9
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Broadway Babies: The People who made the American Musical 
by Ethan Mordden.
Oxford, 244 pp., £19, August 1984, 0 19 503345 0
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... One of his best qualities is his way of dragging you into the dispute, leaving you with the feeling that you, as well as he, would like to say more on the subject. Unlike most commentators on StephenSondheim, he becomes more critical as he becomes more serious, and makes several pointed and original observations. But in the course of analysing the American musical I wonder has he noticed that ...

Dressed in Blue Light

Amy Larocca: Gypsy Rose Lee

11 March 2010
Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee 
by Noralee Frankel.
Oxford, 300 pp., £12.99, June 2009, 978 0 19 536803 1
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Gypsy: The Art of the Tease 
by Rachel Shteir.
Yale, 222 pp., £12.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 12040 0
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... of her life and saw her two outgoing, talented-enough daughters as a ticket to some other, less boring world. Most of what is known in popular culture about Gypsy comes from the musical that StephenSondheim and Arthur Laurents made out of her 1957 memoirs, and most of that is about the original momager, Rose Hovick. It’s a showbiz story about a hard-driving mother and the daughters she drives away. It ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons

3 March 2016
West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... simply torture their children. In later life Jones went to bed in full make-up and hair – it took four hours every day – just in case she was taken ill in the night and had to go to hospital. StephenSondheim remembers seeing her in Ravello during the shooting of John Huston’s madcap movie Beat the Devil. ‘I recall her sitting at an umbrella table in the square,’ Sondheim says ...

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