Revealing Naked Emperors

Reed Martin remembers seeing the 1985 production of Merrily We Roll Along, the troubled musical by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth that found its final form (according to Sondheim) at the La Jolla Playhouse when it was directed by James Lapine. Reed and Austin struggle to find the greatness that everyone else sees, and discuss what compels them to take icons like Sondheim and Shakespeare off their pedestals; how one story created rare flops from two hit-making teams; the multiple intersections of Austin and John Rubinstein; the trouble with problematic female leads; the relief of having built-in happy endings; how the best thing to come out of Merrily We Roll Along just might be the documentary about its making Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened; the desire to not diminish anyone’s greatness; the problem with veneration; and the importance of pointing out that sometimes the emperor isn’t as fully clothed as everybody thinks. (Length 16:33)

Inspiration And Transformation

Last week’s podcast about an uneasy correspondence with Stephen Sondheim prompts this first podcast of 2022! Matt Croke joins us to dig into the question of where artistic inspiration comes from, and how artists transform their influences into art. Featuring comic influences that have inspired the RSC (in both spoken word and musical form); finding more meat on the bone; the importance of acknowledging your influences and knowing what else has been done; how Elvis Costello responded to a similar question of influence; and a parody excerpt from the Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show. (Length 33:16)

Austin’s Sondheim Tale

Attend the tale!! In 2016, The Sondheim Review published an article by our own Austin Tichenor that discussed the similarities between the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical The Fantasticks and the James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim collaborations Sunday in the Park with George and Into The Woods – and Mr. Sondheim was sorely displeased. What follows is a tale of honest curiosity; genuine repentance; possible projection; extreme umbrage; high dudgeon; missed fact-checking; lack of graciousness; sincere regret; and everlasting gratitude. CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE CORRESPONDENCE AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF. (Length 15:54)

Remembering Stephen Sondheim

Brad Oscar is a double Tony Award nominee for his performances in the original Broadway productions of The Producers and Something Rotten!, opens this Sunday in the Broadway musical version of Mrs. Doubtfire, met Stephen Sondheim many times, and played Beadle Bamford in the 2017 off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd set in an actual pie shop where the audience sat at tables and ate during the performance. Brad discusses Sondheim’s legacy and work; his memories of seeing the original productions of Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, and Merrily We Roll Along; how Sondheim has influenced multiple generations; the value of the accumulation of details; the breadth of Sondheim’s impact and reach; and the similarities between Sondheim and Shakespeare. (Length 27:09)

90 Sondheim Songs

Stephen Sondheim turned 90 two weeks ago and to commemorate the event (and because he’s quarantined at home like all the rest of us), NYU MFA student (and Austin’s nephew) Andrew Moorhead compiled his list of the great lyricist/composer’s top ninety songs. Like all lists like this, it provokes lively discussion about such topics as teenage discoveries; being a great artist and a great teacher; the beauty of starting ridiculous arguments; an argument for the first ten songs from Sweeney Todd; a diatribe against some (well, one) terrible and unnecessary song; uncalled-for aspersions against Andrew’s friend Jordan; reverence both genuine and irreverent; what it’s like being a Sondheim savant; some frankly scandalous opinions that Mr. Sondheim definitely won’t like; and how there isn’t much blue in The Red and the Black. Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! (Length 21:57)

CLICK THROUGH TO SEE THE ENTIRE LIST!

The Devil’s Work

Demons and witches and ghosts, oh my! As we reach our 666th podcast, it seems like the perfect time to talk about how the Devil has influenced (or hasn’t) the work of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor discuss Faustian bargains; Satan being cut from The Complete History of America (abridged); rewriting The Music Man; Adam Long’s tribute to two legends in his one-man show Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim; the fear of mockery; our Kerfuffles in Northern Ireland; making friends in Louisiana; stories for another time; how times have changed; celebrating the Devil’s opposite in The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged); making up for missed opportunities with episode 420; and hopefully soon-to-be requited love for our book How The Bible Changed Our Lives (Mostly For The Better). (Length 21:55)

Into The Woods

The Writers Theatre production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into The Woods combines professional artistry with community theatre charm to create a very immediate and powerful version of this popular musical. Directed by Gary Griffin, one of the world’s leading interpreters of Sondheim, the cast features McKinley Carter as Jack’s Mother, Brianna Borger as the Baker’s Wife, and Bethany Thomas as the Witch, all of whom discuss the challenges of going into the Woods multiple times and making new discoveries every time you do. Featuring impertinent references to The Fantasticks; doing the Lord’s work; creating characters instead of types; heightening the immediacy and stakes; the danger of gateway Sondheim drugs; Borscht Belt energy; and an emphasis on the frequently-fraught (“fraught than I thought,” to quote another Sondheim show) relationships between parents and children. (Length 21:05) (Pictured, l to r: Bethany Thomas, Brianna Borger, and McKinley Carter in the Writers Theatre production of Into The Woods, directed by Gary Griffin. Photos by Michael Brosilow.)

Episode 420. Satan Sings Sondheim

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”top” equal_height=”yes” parallax=”content-moving-fade” slider_images=”12004″ slider_animation=”fadeZoom” overlay_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.2)” css=”.vc_custom_1512315432253{background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-size: contain !important;}” anchor_link=”top”][vc_column width=”2/3″ offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2″][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”30″ color=”#2b272c”][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”50″ color=”rgba(166,115,81,0.6)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” anchor_link=”intro” css=”.vc_custom_1451644722488{padding-top: 60px !important;padding-bottom: 100px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_column_text]”No, not Santa — Satan. For this most festive time of year, we present news of RSC founding member Read more…

Episode 411. Meet Shannon Cochran

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”top” equal_height=”yes” parallax=”content-moving-fade” slider_images=”12004″ slider_animation=”fadeZoom” overlay_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.2)” css=”.vc_custom_1512315432253{background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-size: contain !important;}” anchor_link=”top”][vc_column width=”2/3″ offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2″][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”30″ color=”#2b272c”][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”50″ color=”rgba(166,115,81,0.6)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” anchor_link=”intro” css=”.vc_custom_1451644722488{padding-top: 60px !important;padding-bottom: 100px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_column_text]”Shannon Cochran is one of the great American actresses: she did the national tour of August: Osage County and created the Read more…

Episode 241. The Kennedy Center

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”top” equal_height=”yes” parallax=”content-moving-fade” slider_images=”12004″ slider_animation=”fadeZoom” overlay_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.2)” css=”.vc_custom_1512315432253{background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-size: contain !important;}” anchor_link=”top”][vc_column width=”2/3″ offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2″][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”30″ color=”#2b272c”][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”50″ color=”rgba(166,115,81,0.6)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” anchor_link=”intro” css=”.vc_custom_1451644722488{padding-top: 60px !important;padding-bottom: 100px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_column_text]”Max Woodward, the Vice-President for Theatre Programming at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, talks about how he programs Read more…