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1962-1972

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1946-1960

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Christine Andreas - Piaf No Regrets
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Posted on Saturday, November 27, 2021

Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021)

Between 2000 and 2013, I had the honor of producing 14 cast albums for Steve. After every album was put to bed, he’d phone me to thank me. I was humbled to be working with a legend — one I had revered since I was a teenager — and here he was thanking me. I was awed by Steve’s genius, but it was his kindness that overwhelmed me.

Since news came yesterday of his passing, many folks have asked for my favorite Sondheim memory. Nothing grandiose comes to mind; instead, it’s — as the man himself wrote — the little things. Hundreds of them. It’s how, every time he gave me notes on an album, he would finish with, “And that concludes my entire performance — in French,” channeling Zan Charisse in Gypsy. It’s the time Philip and I were vacationing in the Adirondacks, and when we came back, Steve had left a message on our answering machine telling me how thrilled he was with the Sweeney Todd album — two minutes of praise, after which I said to Philip, “We must never tape over this.” It’s how, when I was having a bad health spell in 2012 and was bedridden for several months, he sent me lists of old movies I should watch, and after I watched each one, we would compare notes. (I remember one of his all-time favorites was The Hard Way with Ida Lupino, and after I saw it, I understood why.) It’s how he arrived at the sessions for Follies, sat down, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Is Czerny here?” (He loved playing with our miniature schnauzer during the breaks. And if Jeff was there, they would both take delight in playing with him.)

Since yesterday, folks have been recounting Sondheim lyrics galore. Often the expected ones, but no less resonant for being so expected: e.g., “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood.” I’m too numb right now to think of a proper lyric to honor his passing. The oddest one keeps coming to mind – but if I had to say something back to Steve right now in his own language, it would merely be, “You’re lovely. Absolutely lovely. Who’d believe the loveliness of you?“ No one that brilliant had to be that kind, and generous, and thoughtful, and compassionate. Steve was.

RIP, old friend.

Tommy Krasker

       
     

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