Six by Sondheim
People use the term genius pretty easily these days, but when you talk about Stephen Sondheim, it really means something. Along with the terms icon, legend, master, etc… He’s been widely discussed and interviewed, but the new HBO documentary, Six by Sondheim, takes a slightly different form in examining the man and his work.
Directed and produced by James Lapine, Sondheim’s co-Pulitzer prize winner for Sunday in the Park with George, the documentary examines Sondheim’s life, influences and his work through six of his songs: Something’s Coming, Opening Doors, Send in the Clowns, I’m Still Here, Being Alive and Sunday.
The six songs are performed through archival footage and new performances by Audra McDonald, Darren Criss, America Ferrera, Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes. Oh, and Sondheim himself also joins in to sing with the group on Opening Doors. (Adorable!)
It’s an interesting documentary for both Sondheim devotees and for those who know less about the man. While the show covers many of the more common stories he’s previously recounted (his relationship with Oscar Hammerstein II, the story behind his role as lyricist on West Side Story and Gypsy, etc…), there is a candid look at his complex family life and how that’s impacted what he writes.
I wonder how close “Art isn’t Easy” came to making the song list for the documentary as Sondheim also discusses his insightful guidelines on do’s and don’ts. He also talks about his love of teaching and passing on his knowledge to the next generation and his difficulties in working on his next project and the expectations that accompanies it.
Six by Sondheim adds more insight to the man and the legend and also has me itching to watch Sunday in the Park with George again.
We’ll be hearing more about Sondheim in the coming year since filming recently wrapped on the starry film adaption of Into the Woods with Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine. Can’t wait for this one! And I’m not alone on that. Well, no one is alone…
Six by Sondheim airs on HBO on Monday, December 9.
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