Theater Oct 22, 2009 at 4:00 am

Before Frank Rich Interviews Stephen Sondheim

Fred R. Conrad


I loves me some Frank Rich. And Dan is right - Rich provided a nice oasis from the reign of Bush II (or Cheney the Horrible). Thanks for thanking him for that, Dan. Good interview!
Ouch, Dan. Where's the love for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC?
Just so you know, Memphis just opened on Broadway to rave reviews...
Hey, Frank Rich and Dan Savage. Great interview. But I don't think Diana Rigg's ever played Desiree, though at one time she almost played it on BBC radio. She's certainly never played it in London.

Perhaps Rich is thinking of the production at the National that starred Judi Dench. There was also an earlier London revival with Dorothy Tutin.
I second Dan's "Frank Rich helped get me through the darkest days of the Bush era" sentiment. And in addition to Stewart and Colbert, I would also add Paul Krugman to the list of All-Too-Rare Slices Of Reality amidst the Bush worship from about 2002-2005 or so.
A great read of a conversation by two of the best writers in American journalism these days (yes Dan, I hope The Times falls into your passive-aggressive trap and end up hiring you after all).

As for musicals, it’s interesting how much this genre is now being stereotyped as a “gay” art form. Just look at what Mel Brooks did with his “Producers” musical version.
And speaking of, the current trend of transforming a movie into a musical and then make a new movie based on the musical is on the verge of blasphemy. Who know, maybe it’s a trend triggered by our increased awareness for recycling… Obviously some people read Tom Friedman after all.

In any case, I hope you two will have another chance to converse before Frank leaves town, and I look forward to read the “stenograph” of that conversation.
And now I'm listening to Follies. . .
Regarding the comment "Yeah, the only prominent gay faces on cable news are 'openly closeted,' to coin a phrase" -- I'd repeat what cqd says: What about Rachel Maddow, for Christ's sake? Or are you (Dan) saying that she's "openly closeted"? If so, what's your definition of that term?
Jean Simmons played Desiree in the original London production, and later played the role at Westbury Music Fair in New York, where I saw it. She was terrific.
Thanks so much for this compelling, wide-ranging interview. And thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking to it!
Thoroughly enjoyable back-and-forth, although I must say I'm suffering from severe journalistic blue balls from that "Just off the record, I'll turn the tape off-" ending. Dan, including that was just cruel and wrong, you big... column-tease.

Best Sondheim show: no love for Sunday in the Park...? That show's evocation of the creative process and its thorny, inextricable relationship to artists' personal lives moves me in a way that no other work for the theatre yet has.

A Little Night Music is lovely, though. I'd long been cautioned to choose carefully from opportunities to see the show. I waited all the way until last year, and was vindicated in doing so by the subtle, delicate, expertly rendered production at the Cygnet Theatre Company in San Diego.
Powerhouse interview. So long, it could only happen online. Dan Savage putting it down for online journalism.
Why are you bringing up Jean Simmons, BruceB? Rich mentioned Diana Rigg, not Jean Simmons. Simmons first played Desiree on the American national tour, then London, then at various other theatres in the States, including the Music Fair circuit, where you saw her.
Awesome! I love Rich because he's covered too of my favorite subjects so well: politics and the theater.
Always good to see a former drama critic make good. Frank Rich was one of the best, better by far than my father. He is about the only political columnist now that I have respect for. As for Sondheim, I grew up in the old Rogers and Hammerstein days and I'm sure Oscar will forgive me for saying that Sondheim stands head and shoulders above anybody else in musical theatre.

So thank you for a wonderful interview and I hope to hear from both of you again frequently.

Christopher Hobe Morrison

You had the opportunity to talk with one of the preeminent theatre critics in America and you spend two thirds of the time talking politics. What a waste.

You had an opportunity to talk with one of the preeminent political writers in America and you spend two thirds of the time talking theater. What a waste.

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