on April 10, 2013
The book, along with its companion, is fantastic and amazingly insightful. I was disappointed, however, to find that they arrived in a fairly beat-up condition, despite having been purchased new. The packaging used was not sturdy enough to handle being shipped, I guess. Still, a great purchase! Sondheim's genius is evident from page 1, and his insights into his own work and the work of others are always incredible.
Most of the work of Stephen Sondheim that I love and deeply admire, is covered in the first splendid volume, "Finishing the Hat". "Follies", "A Little Night Music", "Company", "Sweeney Todd" are all treasures from the theatre that should be revived whenever the times change or something new is seen in them that audiences, not the creators, missed before. Even "Anyone Can Whistle", with major rewriting to create a character, not caricature, for the mayor and remove the last scene from Act One, would stand the test of time. So we come to volume two, which I feared would be a falling off. It is not. There is no fantastic great show to anchor the book, though "Merrily We Roll Along" finally makes complete sense and has harmony, something not even the best production I have seen has been able to bring to life. And "Road Show"? I still don't like it though I have listened to the CD five times now. But at last I understand what different forces were at work here. And though I don't like it, Sondheim has led me to appreciate it.
So the book is a learning experience, and a very necessary one if the theatre-goer wants to truly understand Sondheim and his phenomenal body of work. "Finishing the Hat" leads us into his magic and lets us glimpse him at work; "Look, I Made a Hat", continues the journey, not to any conclusion, but to a myriad of marvellous places, each an insight into ourselves. What more can a book do?