On October 2, Tony winner and seven-time Emmy nominee Jason Alexander stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Colbert admitted that even though many recognize Alexander as Seinfeld’s George Costanza, he will always think of Alexander as a singer because of his performance from Man of La Mancha on Letterman, which cued Alexander to reprise his song. (Watch the video above.)
“I know 2010 Stephen Sondheim,” said Colbert. “What was the 1981 Stephen Sondheim like?”
“Lovely, brilliant, amazing,” said Alexander.
Alexander played Joe in the infamous Hal Prince-directed Merrily—a role he booked after attending a mass cattle call.
While Merrily was notoriously plagued with problems, Alexander’s experience with the show was mainly smooth sailing. “They struggled, and I was not part of the struggle,” said Alexander. “I had a character that was very clear in a show that was often unclear, so I was coasting along beautifully having the time of my life. And every day they would re-write massive parts of the show, but never me. I was fine.”
Until one day. “Sondheim came out on the stage, and he was looking around like he was upset, and he looked out into the house in the theatre,” the actor explained in the video above. “He comes up to me and really upset, goes, ‘Never mess around with my score!’ I’m like a puppy following my mother going, ‘I don’t know what I did. I don’t know what I did!’”
Hear the full story in the video clip above. All in all, Alexander worked it out and will always consider Sondheim a sweetheart. “They were lovely men [Prince and Sondheim], and we were all kids and they couldn’t have been kinder, and they really took care of us, but there was a lot of stress.”
Since Merrily, which marked Alexander’s Broadway debut, the actor performed in 1984’s The Rink, Broadway Bound, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway—for which he won a Tony—Accomplice, and returned after a 15-year hiatus to star in Fish in the Dark. Next, he plays Off-Broadway in Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Portuguese Kid. Alexander also has an original television series coming up called Hit the Road, about a family band on their tour bus trying to be the next great American family band.