Sondheim in 1961

This is a fascinating video. It was broadcast on Sunday October 15, 1961, but it was recorded a few days before then.

It’s a WCBS production, so I don’t think it was ever broadcast nationally, but I really don’t know. Moreover, this is the raw tape with a false start and a do-over. Would commercials have been inserted into the broadcast to fill out an hour, or would it have been edited down to a half hour? Again I have no idea.

But a very young Stephen Sondheim answers questions about the lyrics to West Side Story and Gypsy, and he talks about his forthcoming show where he finally got to write the music as well. And he’s remarkably consistent in the answers that he gives in 1961 and for the rest of his life, even to the problems that he he sees in his lyrics to songs such as “I Feel Pretty”.

The audience consists of high school students who dress somewhat differently than today’s students. At the end of the show the students come up to get Sondheim’s autograph. I wonder where those students are today?

There are good performances of some of those songs as well.


Leave a Reply