Posts Tagged With: Sweeney Todd

Day 3253: Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, musical genius and creator of tunes, words, and musicals that have sustained me for decades, died yesterday.

I just took this photo of these books that are always near me:

Those books — “Finishing the Hat” and “Look, I Made a Hat” — contain his lyrics for all his musical numbers and descriptions of his creative process. I love his creations so much that two years ago, my request to Michael for a birthday present was that he just find the blue book, which was packed away in boxes after our last move.

Stephen Sondheim’s music moves me like no others’. I’m sure there are hundreds of blog posts here that feature his music.

Stephen Sondheim’s music has always spoken to me, even when I didn’t know it was him. One of the first songs I chose to sing in front of an audience was “Do I Hear a Waltz” when I was a little kid. Years later, I found out that he had written the lyrics for that. When I was 13 and struggling to physically and emotionally survive heart issues, I was completely captured by a TV production of “Evening Primrose,” which sent me to John Collier‘s incredible short stories. Years later, I found out that Stephen Sondheim had written the lyrics and music for that. When I was dealing with heart problems in 2016, I chose to share this beautiful song from “Evening Primrose” in this blog.

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Before A Little Night Music opened on Broadway in 1973, it came through Boston and I saw it with my beloved late parents, who took me to many, many musicals. I was completely enchanted by all the music, including this:

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Today’s Daily Bitch Calendar mentions clowns!

Honestly, everything is going to evoke Sondheim for me right now.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was part of The Vocal Minority for a local production of Company. Sitting on stage with the musicians, I hit all those high notes and, to this day, the score feels like it’s a part of my mind, body, and soul. Eleven days ago, I saw the latest version of Company on Broadway with my son Aaron, (who appeared, when he was in high school, in a local production of Assassins in the role of John Wilkes Booth).

My cherished, late friend Michelle loved “Being Alive” from that musical, and her partner, Joe, recounted at her memorial how Michelle insisted he listen to that song the night they met. Joe played “Being Alive” for us as we gathered in 2018 to grieve her loss.

Stephen Sondheim, who is no longer being alive on this earthly plane, has helped so many of us in being alive.

One of my most memorable experiences in the theater was seeing the original production of Sweeney Todd on Broadway in 1977. I can still feel the startling whistle blast and see the stage in my mind, as the chorus sang the opening — “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.”

A few years later, in the early 1980’s, I tried out for a local production of Sweeney Todd, hoping to be in the chorus to sing this amazing music. For days and days after I auditioned, I waited painfully to hear back from the production. I did not get the call and rehearsals began, as I grieved the chance to participate. The day after the first rehearsal, I got a call from the show’s producer. She said, “Ann, why weren’t you at rehearsal last night?” I said, not adjusting to this new information, “I wasn’t there because I didn’t get in.” She said, “What? Nobody called you? Oh no! You’re in!” I was ecstatic, and that was a peak experience of my life, learning and singing that profoundly gorgeous music for months.

Sondheim seemed to focus on and create works that have deeper meanings for me. In the 1980’s, I became obsessed with the Italian film Passione D’Amore. A few years later, Sondheim created the musical Passion based on that film, which includes this incredible song:

One of the reasons I cry and grieve today is that, at the time of his death, Stephen Sondheim was working on a new musical that is based on two films of Luis Buñuel, one of my favorite film directors. I wanted to see and hear that musical, but I also have faith that Sondheim has left us enough.

I could go on and on with more memories about how important Stephen Sondheim’s music has been to me. Instead, I’ll just share images from yesterday, captured before and after I heard the news of his passing.

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Here is “No One is Alone” — the profound Sondheim words and music I shared last night on Twitter:

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No one is alone. To Stephen Sondheim, to all who have interpreted and been moved by his artistry, and — of course! — to you, for sharing this with me, here and now, thank you so much!

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 2055: I’m Here

I’m Here in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and so are many other people, including actors, improv artists, musicians, and stand-up comedians, like the guy who inspired today’s blog title.

I don’t know Glenn Doncaster, even though he is “… what the Edinburgh Fringe is all about.” No matter what else Glenn does in his life, he’s helped me find my blog post title for today by putting “I’m Here” on the back of his Fringe flyer.

I’m here and so are others.

That’s my son Aaron and his friend Camilla meeting me at the Edinburgh Airport yesterday. Camilla has been here in my blog before. She told me yesterday that after she found out about my blog from Aaron, she decided to pick a blog post to read and — much to her amazement — found a photo of herself, as the beggar woman in a 2015 production of Sweeney Todd at the Fringe.

I’m here to tell you that synchronicity and coincidences like that help make life even more beautiful and rich.

I’m here to try to find that old blog post. I was not successful. I’m here to tell you it’s okay not to succeed sometimes.

(I’m also here to tell you, eleven days after I published this post and am back home in Boston, that I was able to search for the post with Camilla’s photo and link to it, both in the paragraph above and also here.)

I’m here to share other recent photos with all my readers who are here, now, too.

I’m here with my son and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m here to thank all who helped me create this post and — of course! — all my readers, who are here with me now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 1709: Coping

I’m now coping with the realization that I’ve never used the word “Coping” in a blog title before, even though

  • I facilitate therapy groups called “Coping and Healing” and
  •  writing this blog is a daily coping mechanism for me.

Does everybody know the definition of coping?

Here’s how the Internet defines “Coping”:

cop·ing
ˈkōpiNG
noun
the top, typically sloping, course of a brick or stone wall.

Coping may  mean sloping, but that’s not what I was hoping. I’m hoping for the “coping” that’s a help with things dystopian.

I shall cope by searching again.

cope
[kohp]
verb (used without object), coped, coping.
1. to struggle or deal, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success (usually followed by with):
“I will try to cope with his rudeness.”
2. to face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner:
“After his breakdown he couldn’t cope any longer.”

Now that we know the definition of coping, how are we all coping today?

I’m not sure how I’m coping, because today’s news is filled with others not coping  very well.  When those in control are not coping, I have trouble coping too.

Let’s see if my photos from yesterday offer any coping (or maybe sloping):

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As you can see,  Michael and I did some coping with walking, mowing, and respecting boundaries.

Good luck coping with this video I made yesterday about our new kitchen faucet, where I attempt to evoke Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

I’m coping with my lame line reading at the end and the fact that this video has gotten no likes on Facebook.

I’m hoping for some comments about coping, below.

Thanks to all whose coping helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — for coping with all this, here and now.

 

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 957: Unforeseen Circumstances 

Yesterday morning, my son Aaron, my excellente ex-sister-in-law Deborah, and I walked over to the New Town section of Edinburgh,  to try out a highly regarded breakfast spot named “Urban Angel.”

When we got there, we found this:


Due to unforeseen circumstances, we ended up at a fine breakfast establishment next door, with more unforeseen circumstances, including:




Deborah ordering six shots of Espresso and cream and getting whipped cream instead of regular cream on the side,


white AND pink marshmallows adorning a glass of fine Italian hot chocolate,

my foreseenly breakfast-shunning son eating most of his hearty breakfast (except for the more than forty seen beans), and


four unforeseen backpackers at the next table unforeseenly  singing German Christmas songs, out of season.  When those four seemingly German singers  asked us if we had any requests, we then had the unforeseen circumstance of my being serenaded —  in Scotland on August 14 — with “O Tannenbaum.”

Other unforeseen circumstances, yesterday, included an extended walk around foreseen Edinburgh, where all the unforseen-ness of the following unforeseen scenes were seen:







   

  


  



  




   
  

   

Here’s an unforeseen circumstance: I’m going to ask you to guess what all those unforeseen flavors are for, above.

After the unforeseen circumstance of over forty seen flavors at a restaurant, there was yet another unforeseen and un-four-scene circumstance:

 

Unforseenly, Aaron and I totally disagreed about a Festival Fringe performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. While I LOVED the unforseen and flawless navigation of a complex score by all the singers and musicians,  Aaron disliked the acting.

Then, we encountered a few more unforeseen circumstances, at this foreseen Fringe Festival venue:

Lote —  who was handing out unforeseen  flyers outside the world-famous and formerly seen Frankenstein establishment — told us, unforeseenly, that she:

  • was given the name “Charlotte” at birth,
  • chose the name “Lote” for herself because it’s Elvish for “blossoming flower,”
  • is of Russian Jewish descent, and
  • was convinced  we would all love a stand-up comedian who was (1) performing at the Frankenstein in four minutes and (2) a master of punning.

Then, this unforeseen circumstance: none of us enjoyed the foreseen punning of that comedian.

Two more unforeseen circumstances:

  1. My red eye is NOT fading and
  2. My purple hair extension is.

That foreseen red eye may look bad, but it is unforeseenly and completely painless.

Is it unforeseen what music I’ve seen as seemly for this unforeseen post?

Perhaps it should have been a foreseen circumstance  by the three of us that —  directly after seeing  “A Little Priest” in a scene from Sweeney Todd — we were all punned out.

Unforeseen thanks to all those who unforeseenly contributed to this unforeseen and circumstantial post and foreseen thanks to you — of course! — no matter what your circumstances, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 926: My Friends

My friends!

Yesterday morning I heard my son’s favorite  song from Stephen Sondheim‘s Sweeney Todd — My Friends.”

My friends, a month from now I’ll be seeing Sweeney Todd at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with my son and my ex-sister-in-law (who’s been my friend since the early 80s). I’ve seen Sweeney Todd so many times (I appeared in a local production of it, too),  that musical is like an old friend.

My office whiteboard  — which I use in my work as a psychotherapist — also seems like an old friend to me (and I hope it seems that way to others).




Yesterday, after I decided on today’s title, I  asked who would like to be included in today’s post.

Here are those who said “yes” to being my friends.
  

    
  

  
  
  
  
  

My friends! Because the friends in “My Friends” are the razors of a Victorian barber, I think the following song might be more fitting for my friends in this post:

My friend Bette Midler knows that we’ve got to have friends, and so do I.

Today I get to see several of those friends pictured above, plus my friendly cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem.

What do my friends at WordPress think about all this?

My friends,  it’s time I thank all my friends, including you!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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