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Side by Side by Sondheim

music and Lyrics by Stepehen Sondheim

music by Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers and Jule Styne

????, 1985

Plank Road School

As the lights come up, the company enters one by one singing COMEDY TONIGHT. In this popular song from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, the casts tells the audience what they can and cannot expect in the performance to come. This song segues immediately into LOVE IS IN THE AIR, which the show’s narrator later informs the audience, was originally written as the opening number to Forum. He adds that the song (as well as the show) initially flopped until Jerome Robbins was brought on board and Sondheim conceived COMEDY TONIGHT. (The cast then finishes the song).


The narrator welcomes the audience and prepares them for the type of evening they are about to share. He informs them that there is very little plot in the show, and that its main purpose is to celebrate the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim.


The narrator notes that Sondheim’s lyrics have certain reoccurring themes and that one of them is marriage. The songs in this section all explore this theme. He introduces a song from Gypsy, IF MOMMA WAS MARRIED, in which two young girls, the daughters of an overbearing showbiz mother, speculate how wonderful it would be if their mother married. This song is followed by YOU MUST MEET MY WIFE from A Little Night Music, which is about a man who has just married an 18-year-old-virgin, who is hanging on to it. A not-so-newlywed couple then sings about THE LITTLE THINGS YOU DO TOGETHER. This song discusses the long littlenesses of married life, which range from daily pleasures to destructive arguments. Giving this some thought, the cast joins in singing GETTING MARRIED TODAY which deals with the nerves of a young bride on the big day.


The common thread that holds together the next set of songs is that they are relatively unknown. The narrator introduces CAN THAT BOY FOX TROT, which was cut from the Boston preview of Follies, and I REMEMBER SKY from a 1966 television musical named Evening Primrose. This show aired only one evening and concerned “a mystical night society of hermits fleeing from the pressures of the outside world in a department store.”


After telling the audience a little bit about Sondheim’s childhood and early ventures into musical theatre, including his relationship with Oscar Hammerstein, the narrator then introduces the next selection of songs, all from the musical Company. Company is based on a series of one-act plays by George Furth. The medley begins with COMPANY and segues into ANOTHER HUNDRED PEOPLE, a song for a young woman who has just arrived in New York and is still open-eyes with wonder at the whole town; at the “city of strangers.” BARCELONA is a sung scene between April, an airline stewardess, and the man that she just woke up with after a one-night stand. Their exchange is cautious, kind, awkward and very real. When April agrees to stay, the man is not quite sure what he got himself into --a perfect segue into MARRY ME A LITTLE. This song was originally intended for Company, but Harold Prince didn’t think that the mood was right for the piece. Sondheim finished it and gave it to Mrs. Prince, who loved the song, as a Christmas present.


The narrator sets up the next song I NEVER DO ANYTHING TWICE by telling the audience a little bit about its history and a little bit (fictitious) about the woman who is going to sing it. The song was commissioned for a film called The Seven Percent Solution, but not much of it survived the final cuts. It is sung by the madam of a brothel and is full of saucy double entendre.


The final set of songs in Act I, is from Follies. The narrator tells the audience that while Sondheim is known and will always be remembered for challenging the conventions of musical theatre, he is most certainly aware of and influenced by the history upon which the art form is built. The selected songs from Follies show his ability to draw from such classic musical styles as Irving Berlin (BEAUTIFUL GIRLS), French song writing (AH, PAREE!) , Vaudeville (BUDDY’S BLUES), and the unforgettable songs of DeSylva, Brown and Henderson (BROADWAY BABY). Act I is brought to a close by a trio of girls who sing YOU COULD DRIVE A PERSON CRAZY about the behavior of a certain man in their lives.


Act II opens with the entire ensemble singing EVERYBODY SAYS DON’T from Anyone Can Whistle. After the narrator relates a few behind the scene anecdotes about Sondheim, he introduces two of Sondheim’s most simple and subtle songs ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and SEND IN THE CLOWNS.


These moments of quiet reflection are followed by a conversation between man and wife. In WE’RE GONNA BE ALL RIGHT, they admit to one another that their own marriage isn’t going very well, but that judging by the mess their friends are in, they’re doing just fine. That song, and the two that follow it, are songs with lyrics by Sondheim, and music by different composers. Richard Rodgers wrote WE’RE GONNA BE ALRIGHT, and Leonard Bernstein composed A BOY LIKE THAT and I HAVE A LOVE. The last of these songs was written by Mary Rodgers for a New York revue called The Mad Show and is entitled THE BOY FROM… Although Sondheim wrote the lyrics, he signed them under the pen name Esteban Ria Nido!


The narrator then talks at length about the creation, intention, and performance of Pacific Overtures. This is followed by the performance of PRETTY LADY by three of the men. This song is sung by a group of English sailors looking in at a Japanese girl whom they mistake for a geisha.#The show moves from geishas to strippers, as the narrator sets up the blockbuster number YOU GOTTA GET A GIMMICK from Gypsy. This song, with music by Jule Styne, is a tribute to the “genuine good old days of real burlesque and strip-tease.”


Bringing the mood down several notches, the narrator describes “three soliloquies packed with emotion and imagery.” They are LOSING MY MIND, which explores the desperation one feels when he/she is in love, COULD I LEAVE YOU about a woman in a loveless marriage who doesn’t really wonder if she could leave her husband, but what would she leave her husband after their split, and finally I’M STILL HERE, a social history of America from the 30’s right through the 60’s.


The revue ends with a “medley” of Sondheim songs, literally sung in one-line intervals, and entitled A CONVERSATION PIECE.


Show Program









Production Staff


Robert Gee

Lighting Designer

Bob Kafka

Musical Director

Robert Gee

House Manager

Margie Kaczmarek


Lighting Crew

Dan Gee

Marianne Kolar

Michael Sauer

Program Maggie Ley



Wendy Clifford

Candace Haas-Hohnson

Jeff Hussinger

Maggie Ley



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