By Meryle Secrest
(Alfred A. Knopf, Hardcover, 9780679448174, 448pp.)
Publication Date: June 1998
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Here is the young boy son of a successful New York dress manufacturer, taught to play the piano by his father at age 4, shattered by his parents' divorce when he was 10, sent off to military schools, findings refuge with Oscar and Dorothy Hammerstein, determined to become just like Oscar.
Secrest writes about the years when Sondheim was struggling to gain a foothold in the theater. Here is his ascent to the peaks of the Broadway musical, from his success as lyricist with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story to his first full Broadway score, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, to his almost 20-year collaboration with producer-director Hal Prince, which resulted in such productions as Company, Follies, Pacific Overtures, A Little Night Music, and more.
We see Sondheim at work with the likes of Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Robbins, Bernadette Peters, and Lee Remick, as Secrest portrays the energy, the passion, the despair, the excitement, the genius, the color that have made the theater of Stephen Sondheim great and original.