On Sunday in New York City, the Broadway neighborhood gathered to honor, mourn and have a good time the late composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who handed away on the age of 91 on Friday.
On the purple stairs above TKTS in Times Square, as the primary flurries of the winter season drifted down on the town, members of each Broadway firm — joined by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban, Kathryn Gallagher and Lauren Patton — gathered in a refrain to sing “Sunday,” the heartrending act one finale to Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” which earned the eight-time Tony-winning composer and lyricist a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1985.
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“Let us pass,” the refrain sang, “through our perfect park.”
In “Sunday in the Park with George,” a masterpiece concerning the private toll of dedicating oneself to artwork, “Sunday” assembles a tableau vivant of Georges Seurat’s well-known pointillist masterpiece, a second of inventive genius that’s each fleeting and without end. In the Broadway canon, Sondheim’s “Sunday” is as shut to non secular communion as something. At his passing, the tune provided a bittersweet tribute to the lasting inventive contributions and uncompromising devotion of Broadway’s best composer.
“This felt like church,” Bareilles informed Variety after the efficiency on Sunday. “In his remembrance, we did what theater does best. We sang and raised our voices and came together in community.”
During the celebration, Miranda provided a sermon of types. Foregoing a speech, he opened Sondheim’s “Look I Made A Hat,” an annotated anthology of the composer’s lyrics, and skim from a couple of passages earlier than the group.
“Once during the writing of each show, I cry at a notion, a word, a chord, a melodic idea, an accompaniment figure,” Miranda learn from Sondheim’s phrases. “In [‘Sunday in the Park with George’], it was the word ‘forever’ in ‘Sunday,’” Miranda continued, starting to choke up. “I was suddenly moved by the contemplation of what these people would have thought if they’d know they were being immortalized.”
After his remarks, Miranda stepped down from the director’s podium to affix the refrain as they sang “Sunday” for a second and closing time. On the steps, Broadway, and its collected actors, administrators, crew members and composers, wept in mourning.
“Everybody who’s here has a touchstone for why Sondheim’s music has brought them to this place,” Groban informed Variety after the efficiency. “And whatever part of the entertainment industry we’re in, everybody is here because we were first influenced by Sondheim’s music. To mourn his passing is a crushing blow.”
“‘Sunday,’ is about capturing moments and holding on to them while we have them, even the ones that might seem ordinary,” Groban mentioned. “It’s a song about gratitude, about making sure to hold each other close.”
The occasion, produced by Erich Bergen, was co-presented by the Broadway League, the Times Square Alliance and Playbill. The contributors have been carried out by Michael J. Moritz.
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