An Audience’s Guide to Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim was never far from a theater. Born in 1930, he grew up between New York’s Upper West Side and eastern Pennsylvania. His parents’ bitter divorce while he was still young left a permanent mark on the young Mr. Sondheim, who soon found himself in the company of Oscar Hammerstein II, a writer and lyricist known for the 1927 landmark musical Show Boat. Hammerstein took the teenager under his wing and served as both an artistic mentor and a surrogate father. As Hammerstein’s career collaborating with the composer Richard Rogers took off in the 1940s with a string of remarkably successful hits, including Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), and South Pacific (1949), Sondheim learned about theater– the industry and the art– from Oscar.
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