Sunday, February 18, 2007

INTO THE WOODS--About the Pultizer Prize Winning Authors

The original production ran for 764 performances on Broadway and had a 17-month national tour. The original cast featured Bernadette Peters (the Witch) and Joanna Gleason (the Baker's Wife). Other Witches included Phyllicia Rashad, Nancy Dussault, Betty Buckley, Ellen Foley and Cleo Laine. Dick Cavett played the Narrator for several weeks on Broadway in 1988. There was also a much-heralded London production, which is also available as an RCA cast album. The original Broadway cast was videotaped for PBS' Great Performances" series; that show was made available on laserdisc and now on videotape.

Stephen Sondheim,
one of the most influential and accomplished composer/lyricists in Broadway history, was born in New York City and raised in New York and Pennsylvania. As a teenager he met Oscar Hammerstein II, who became Sondheim's mentor. Sondheim graduated from Williams College, where he received the Hutchinson Prize for Music Composition. After graduation he studied music theory and composition with Milton Babbitt. He worked for a short time in the 1950s as a writer for the television show Topper; his first professional musical theatre job was as the songwriter for the unproduced musical Saturday Night. He wrote the lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959) and Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965), as well as additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Musicals for which he has written both music and lyrics include A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Company (1970 - 1971 Tony Award Music and Best Lyrics), Follies (1971 - 1972 Tony Award Score and New York Drama Critics Circle Award; revised in London, 1987), A Little Night Music (1973 - Tony Award Score), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976 - New York Drama Critics' Circle Award), Sweeney Todd (1979 - Tony Award Score), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday In The Park With George (1984 - New York Drama Critics Circle Award; 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), Into The Woods (1987 - Tony Award Score), Assassins (1991) and Passion (1994 - Tony Award Score). He composed the songs for the television production Evening Primrose (1966), co-authored the film The Last of Sheila (1973) and provided incidental music for The Girls of Summer (1956), Invitation to a March (1961) and Twigs (1971). Side By Side By Sondheim (1976), Marry Me A Little (1981), You're Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983; originally presented as A Stephen Sondheim Evening) and Putting It Together (1993) are anthologies of his work. He has written scores for the films Stavisky (1974) and Reds (1981), and composed songs for the film Dick Tracy (1990 - Academy Award for Best Song). He is on the Council of the Dramatist Guild, the national association of playwrights, composers and lyricists, having served as its president from 1973 until 1981, and in 1983 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990 he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University. He was also recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.

James Lapine also collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on Sunday in the Park with George, a revised version of Merrily We Roll Along and, most recently, Passion. Mr. Lapine collaborated with William Finn on the musicals March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, which were later presented on Broadway as Falsettos. He has written and directed the plays Luck, Pluck and Virtue; Twelve Dreams; Table Settings; and adapted Gertrude Stein's poem/play Photograph. He has also directed The Winter's Tale and A Midsummer Night's Dream for the New York Shakespeare Festival and directed the films Impromptu and Life With Mikey. His work has been recognized with Tony, Drama Desk Obie and NY Drama Critics Circle awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Sunday in the Park With George.