Success is measured not by a list of our accomplishments, but by a legacy of people inspired by our passion.
This past Sunday (November 28), Broadway royalty gathered together in Times Square to pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist who created legendary works for six decades, and whose name is practically synonymous with musical theatre. The tribute came after his passing on Friday.
The entertainers sung “Sunday” from “Sunday in the Park With George.” Some think that Sondheim wrote a fictionalized story about George Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, but it would be more accurate to say that he captured the essence of an artist’s inner battle between pure passion and toxic obsession, and simply set it to music. Such was Sondheim’s talent for encapsulating the human condition into breathtaking lyrics and dynamic composition.
Broadway Honors Sondheim—'Sunday' from 'Sunday in the Park With George' in Times Square 11/28/21
The massive crowd is a sea of recognizable faces, including Sara Bareilles (“Waitress”) and Josh Groban. Perhaps most easily spotted is teary-eyed Lin Manuel Miranda, a modern-day Sondheim in his own right.
Miranda would later be seen reading a passage about “Sunday in the Park with George” from Sondheim’s memoir, which read:
"Once during the writing of each show, I cry at a notion, a word, a chord, a melodic idea, an accompaniment figure... In this show, it was the word ‘forever’ in ‘Sunday.' I was suddenly moved by the contemplation of what these people would have thought if they’d know they were being immortalized, and in a major way, in a great painting.”
Towards the verticals of trees— Howard Sherman (@HESherman) November 28, 2021
Forever . . .
By the blue purple yellow red water
On the green
Orange violet mass
Of the grass
In our perfect park
Made of flecks of light
And parasols . . .
Bumbum bum Bumbumbum
Bumbum bum . . .#Sondheim pic.twitter.com/AG9e5zoAND
In an age where we’re more likely to stay at home and watch Netflix than go to a live concert, let alone go see a musical, there are many who have not experienced that inexplicable, magic quality that live theatre possesses. At its best, it inspires people to use their voice, practice empathy and come together in community with one another. Sondheim was the very best of the best at embodying this quality in his works. And if this video is any indication, he will be sorely missed.
Sondheim too will be immortalized, perhaps in a way he’d never imagined during his lifetime.
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