By Kenneth Jones
22 Apr 2010
|Photo by Jerry Jackson|
James Lapine, Sondheim's collaborator on the musicals Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods and Passion, conceived and directed the Roundabout Theatre Company production part starry revue, part video documentary now at Studio 54. He coaxed the 80-year-old Sondheim to write a new piece for the show. What materialized was a self-deprecating comic song called "God" for the opening of the second act.
More of a palate-cleansing intro than a full meal, "God" is nevertheless the first new Sondheim song on Broadway since 2004, when newly written numbers were added to a reconceived version of the musical The Frogs at the Vivian Beaumont.
The full company of Sondheim on Sondheim including Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat sings "God," a tongue-in-cheek exploration of how most theatregoers view his place in the artistic universe.
I mean the man's a god!
Smart! The lyrics are so smart
And the music has such heart!
It has heart?
Well, in part
The song, Lapine confirmed through a spokesman, was inspired by a past New York magazine cover story that asked, in a headline, "Is Stephen Sondheim God?"
The answer is clear. For evidence, listen to the lyrics of Do I Hear a Waltz?, Gypsy and West Side Story, plus the scores of "Evening Primrose," A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods, Passion, The Frogs and Road Show.