Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes by Stephen Sondheim

Finishing the Hat hits bookstores tomorrow. I've been counting the days since Jerusha and I saw Barbara Cook and Vanessa Williams in Sondheim on Sondheim in NY a few months ago. Amazing show, amazing artist, and (not a doubt in my mind) an amazing book. According to early reviews, there's plenty of behind the scenes dish, but it's more theatre history than backstage snark. Sondheim has been a huge musical presence in my life since I was a kid (and even more so as I evolved into a Gleekish theatre major in college), but I came away from the Broadway show appreciating the artistry on a totally different level, wanting to explore further, and loving the guy more than ever.

From the flap:
Stephen Sondheim has won seven Tonys, an Academy Award, seven Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center Honors. His career has spanned more than half a century, his lyrics have become synonymous with musical theater and popular culture, and in Finishing the Hat—titled after perhaps his most autobiographical song, from Sunday in the Park with George—Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, he is giving readers a rare personal look into his life as well as his remarkable productions.

Along with the lyrics for all of his musicals from 1954 to 1981—including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd—Sondheim treats us to never-before-published songs from each show, songs that were cut or discarded before seeing the light of day. He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Angela Lansbury, Harold Prince and a panoply of others. The anecdotes—filled with history, pointed observations and intimate details—transport us back to a time when theater was a major pillar of American culture...

Penetrating and surprising, poignant, funny and sometimes provocative, Finishing the Hat is not only an informative look at the art and craft of lyric writing, it is a history of the theater that belongs on the same literary shelf as Moss Hart’s Act One and Arthur Miller’s Timebends.

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