Good-bye to clocks ticking....and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it—every, every minute?
Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some.
One of my most memorable moments in going to the theater was the night I watched Stephen Sondheim watching this. It was David Cromer’s Our Town down at The Barrow Theater. Sondheim was sitting directly in front of me. He sobbed. I saw him again at one of the early previews of Hamilton and snuck a picture like a crazed fan, but that night too I recalled the story of watching him listening to Wilder's words. I told this again to my niece last night as we waited for the curtain to go up on Company.
It was by chance we had tickets that evening, she was home from college, the night the world was learning of Sondheim’s death, at the age of 91. There were already Instagram tributes flooding my feed and TV news crews parked outside the theater. I heard the cast was told between shows on a two show day. The director of this Company, in previews now for a December 9 opening, Marianne Elliott took the stage, announced the news and then thanked Sondheim for being open to the changes she had made.
He understood, she said, that art had to speak to the now, that it could not become a museum piece. And then the curtain rose on the cast of this very modern Company, and there was Katrina Lenk and there was Patti LuPone and they stood together, in tribute and in mourning, tears visible. LuPone spoke. Every performance of this Company, for the entire run will be dedicated to Stephen Sondheim. And then of course, the show went on.
Did we hear "Ladies Who Lunch" more clearly, listening to every brilliant turn of phrase? Did we cry more than usual at "Being Alive"? Did we remind ourselves more insistently to see everything and everyone while we can and appreciate the marvel that is live theater and theater performers? We did. Thank you Mr. Sondheim. Saint and poet.
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