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The Musicals of Stephen Sondheim: An Insider’s Look at His Hits and Misses

The composer and/or lyricist of 18 major musicals, Stephen Sondheim is undeniably the most influential musical theater writer of his generation. But despite his success with critics and his shelves full of awards, most of his musicals lost money, and he has almost as many detractors as fans.

This lecture will focus on Sondheim’s 3 major phases (the “lyrics only” phase, the Hal Prince years and the James Lapine collaborations) to determine not only which shows hit or miss, but also how his writing has changed the way we think about musical theater. Kaufman Music Center Director Sean Hartley will perform a few essential songs to illustrate points.

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Sean Hartley / Kaufman Music Center

Sean Hartley is the director at the Kaufman Music Center’s Theater Wing, the chair of the SMS Admissions Assessment Committee, and on the faculty of the SMS Chorus and LMS Dalcroze. He is the Producer/Host of Broadway Close Up as well as Broadway Playhouse. Sean is also a playwright, composer, and lyricist: Cupid And Psyche (Drama Desk nomination,) Little Women; Snow (ASCAP Harold Arlen Award.); Leaving Home. He is in residence at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Sarasota.

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