Stephen Sondheim’s Knotty Vision of Musical Theater

Stephen Sondheim’s Knotty Vision of Musical Theater

By Sophie Gilbert

It was Madonna who first introduced me to Stephen Sondheim, which sounds infinitely more chic than what happened in reality: Someone gave a 7-year-old girl a cassette of I’m Breathless, the 1990 album Madonna recorded during her gauzy showgirl period, pegged to her role as Breathless Mahoney in the movie adaptation of Dick Tracy. At the time, Cats had been running on Broadway for eight years. I had recently furthered my own artistic evolution by playing the title role in our class production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Musical theater in London was largely defined by plasticized melodies, Schönberg and Boublil, and soap-opera stars grinning out from West End billboards.

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