Master theatre composer Stephen Sondheim decried the “fragile” nature of the commercial theatre on Broadway and in the West End and said he wishes there were a ”supermarket” of musical styles to choose from, according to a report in the British journal The Stage.
Speaking to an audience at the National Theatre in London, Sondheim said the ”financially fragile” commercial theatre was limiting the range of musical that get produced. “Commercial theatre is so financially fragile, I wish there were more of a supermarket of musicals – different kinds of musicals.”
Video of the full interview was posted by the National Theatre:
“What happens is: once the first jukebox musical became popular, a lot of jukebox musicals [were made]” he was quoted saying. “I understand why, but it would be nice to have other kinds of musicals.”
He said Off-Broadway offers a better range, but “you can’t make enough of a living Off-Broadway to support a family.”
He said the antidote, as it is in all areas of the arts, is to make sure up-and-coming artists have a forum. ”Young people need means of getting their work heard, or paintings on the wall, or shows on the stage.”
Sondheim, who wrote the scores to Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George, Follies and many other musical, spent most of his career in the commercial theatre, but in recent years he has turned increasingly to the non-commercial theatre. New York's Public Theater has said it stands ready to produce his next musical, based on films by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel, The Exterminating Angel and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.