Tag Archives: James Lapine


‘ I have to finish the hat ‘

Sondheim fans will wallow luxuriously in this book .It is of medium to large size and relatively thick. There is a Prelude , a list of dramatis personae, it is divided into five chapters then there is a Finale , followed by the complete script of the 1984 Sunday In The Park With George which envisages the story behind French artist George Seurat’s creation of the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” and portrays the difficulties facing his (fictitious) great-grandson, also an artist named George, a century later. While yes there is a catalogue of acknowledgements , yet again this is a wonderful book that needs an index but doesn’t have one.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER is mostly presented chronologically .There are intermittent pieces of narration and short , sharp chapter titles .Readers learn that Lapine originally trained to be a photographer and worked as a graphic designer before producing the graphics for the Yale School of Drama and sort of falling into the world of librettist , playwright and theatre director. Lapine reminisces about the inspiration and fascinating creative process behind the creation of the work , inspired by a postcard of the Seurat painting ,the many discussions , the workshops for the first act, the rehearsed readings and how two songs were urgently needed for Act2 and completed at the last minute, with the panic about the Broadway opening . During rehearsals the cast were often a bit perplexed, trying to get a feel for developing their character, particularly for Act 2 .They needed to find the moment ( words, ? song? Sound? Movement ? etc ) that defined their character .A couple of songs were needed to establish them and consolidate the narrative , which Lapine eventually wrote just in time . In particular we hear from Bernadette Peters (who created the part of Dot) and Mandy Patinkin (who created the part of George Seurat).
Transcripts of various conversations with Sondheim and others are presented. Readers learn about Sondheim’s (and Lapine’s) working and creative styles. (Lapine and Sondheim went on also to collaborate on Into the Woods and Passion ).

Their first meeting is recalled and how Sondheim and Lapine instantly ‘clicked’. Sondheim then shares memories with Lapine of their years-long collaborative process on the musical .However ,he also offer frank opinions and anecdotes – sarcastic , cutting ,rancorous – about his work , the way he was treated and the politics and bitchiness at times in the theatre world overall.

First there were workshops and previews ‘ off ‘ Broadway with everyone working frantically behind the scenes .PUTTING IT TOGETHER is also an oral history involving some 40 other people that Lapine interviewed , illuminating various areas of the performance , from the financial side of things and contracts to the whole production team that brought the show to Broadway – the set design and costumes ,the backstage tech people , the sound, the lighting , the music and orchestra for example and the pressure , stresses and strains of working towards opening night , with some people involved quitting .
We are taken through to opening night , and then the season on Broadway. The show won a Pullitzer Prize for drama in 1985.

As Sondheim says ‘ this show is about our attitude towards art and artists and the difficulty of being .”

INTO THE WOODS @ Rockdale Town Hall

Into The Woods- inset
Production photos by Andrew Croucher Photography

Rockdale Musical Society with a very well chosen cast, is revisiting this Sondheim classic, for the first time since its production in 1994.

How far would you go, to make your wish come true? INTO THE WOODS challenges our perceptions of what makes a fairy tale, by taking many of those well-remembered classic fairy tale characters (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more) and sends them all into the woods, all at the same time. Continue reading INTO THE WOODS @ Rockdale Town Hall


Director Stephen Colyer with the full cast of the upcoming FALSETTOS
Director Stephen Colyer with the full cast of the upcoming FALSETTOS. Pic Helen White

One of the perks of being the first play of the season is that you get to rehearse in the space.

No wonder director Stephen Colyer was pleased as punch when I spoke to him a week into rehearsals of FALSETTOS, at the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst’s newest theatrical tabernacle.

Colyer was at the helm of  Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production of Torch Song Trilogy last Mardi Gras, and is clearly delighted to have the opportunity of revisiting another in the cannon of landmark queer theatre for this year’s festival.

Continue reading STEPHEN COLYER directs FALSETTOS