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The Dress Circle: Lyrics Only by Stephen Sondheim

Shortly after his passing, we celebrated the incredible talents of Stephen Sondheim, and on this week’s Dress Circle (9/18 7:00 p.m.), we’re taking another look at his work, but this time, it’s as the lyricist for other composers.

There aren’t many shows for which Sondheim added lyrics, but a few songs may be unfamiliar. At least, we’re hoping that they will.

Of course, we’ll be looking at his work with Leonard Bernstein for “West Side Story” which got him his first of fifteen Tony nominations in 1958. This was followed in 1959 by “Gypsy” which garnered him his second Tony nomination for his work with Jule Styne.

A lesser-known show was “Do I Hear a Waltz?” based on Arthur Laurent’s play “The Time of the Cuckoo” which was also the source for the Katherine Hepburn film “Summertime.” Sondheim apparently worked with Richard Rodgers at the request of the dying Oscar Hammerstein, his mentor, and the results caused both men a great deal of angst. It only ran for 220 performances in 1965.

Another work that often flies under the radar features the lyrics for a song written by his friend Mary Rodgers for her off-Broadway revue entitled “The Mad Show.” Under the penname of “Esteban Ria Nido,” they penned a wonderful take on “The Boy from Ipanema” titled “The Boy from…” which is an excellent “Mad Magazine” take on the song.

We’ll also feature some of the songs from a few versions of the legendary Broadway show by Leonard Bernstein and several others, “Candide.” Sondheim was one of several people who added lyrics to a show that is perpetually being “fixed,” and some of the others are John La Touche, Richard Wilbur, Dorothy Parker, and Bernstein himself.

“Life Is Happiness Indeed” this week, and we hope you’ll tune in.

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Ted Otten is co-host of The Dress Circle
Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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