At ‘Company’ and ‘Assassins,’ Praise for Stephen Sondheim

 

Shows like “Company” and “Assassins,” both of which Sondheim wrote, were revived on the day of his death, drawing large crowds of fans. The pandemic had pushed back both projects.

Elliott told the audience at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater that Sondheim’s death had been a shock to the production, which had become close to the composer and lyricist during the rehearsal process for the revival. Even at the age of 91, Sondheim was still actively involved in the new run of the musical, which first premiered in 1970 and won six Tony Awards for its music and lyrics. As soon as it made its London debut in 2019, the current production was a huge hit with critics.

Elliott said, “He didn’t need to do that.” Elliot said that George Furth was “the greatest enthusiast for it, and every single line of George Furth’s and every single lyric we talked about,” referring to the playwright. “We debated, we argued, we chatted, we laughed,” he continued, referring to the play.

Women play the main character in this version, a bachelor with commitment issues (Lenk). Elliott reported that he had been on board with the rewrites of the show. In her words, “He really understood about art,” she said, “and he really understood about the now and why art should speak to the now.”

Sondheim was a prolific playwright and theatregoer until his death. When Sondheim visited Manhattan from his Connecticut home for the first time earlier this month, he went to the Classic Stage Company to see “Assassins” and then to a preview of “Company.” “What else would I do with my time but write?” Sondheim said in an interview with the New York Times this week.