Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was born today.
Along with his collaborators, composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim has written musicals inspired by fairy tales (Into the Woods), historical figures (Assassins), folk legends (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), and even works of art (Sunday in the Park with George). His work has won him many Tony Awards for achievement in the theater, and in 2014 he was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. His collected lyrics have been published in a two-volume edition. Stephen Sondheim died on November 26, 2021.
Sondheim’s 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George features the character Georges Seurat and brings to life the figures in Seurat’s 1884 painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
After explaining the relationship between the painting and Sondheim’s work, have students examine the painting and imagine who the figures in the painting might be and what they are doing in the image. Then have them research work by artists such as Romare Bearden or Pierre-August Renoir and create backstories and dialogues for the figures in a painting of their choice.
The webpage of the Stephen Sondheim Society, a charitable group established to promote the public knowledge and appreciation of the works of Stephen Sondheim. Here students can find information about his life and works, as well as the Sondheim magazine.
On this site, students can find well-organized lists and links about Sondheim’s shows, songs, recordings, and more.
This ArtsEdge resource asks students to use skills to identify the Cinderella story Sondheim used for Into the Woods and develop a performance piece based on it
This site contains links to resources on Sondheim and his work hosted at the Library of Congress.