The First Day of My Life in a World Without Stephen Sondheim

Obama confers the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Stephen Sondheim.

Yesterday morning, for the first day of my entire life, I woke up into a world without Stephen Sondheim. I cannot say that I like it better than the world I have known every day before that. It feels somehow bereft, stolen, less than, without…

Things looked pretty much the same. The Sun was shining 

…”I think about you.” 

There was Sky 

…”I remember sky.” 

The proletariat was going to and from the subway station 

…”and another hundred people just got off of the train.”

So you see, it is woven into the fabric of my being how he helped me see the world. 

…”Take me to the world that’s real. Show me how it’s done.” 

Like so many legendary icons of Show Business, Stephen and I had a few direct contacts but he would not have known me. I do remember when he came to see Richard Maltby’s THE SIXTIES PROJECT. I was seated diagonally in front of him. He was so quiet and polite and unassuming, yet I could not keep my eyes from darting over my right shoulder. 

Just to be in his presence… 

…”All I know is, the minute you turn
And he’s suddenly there,
There won’t be trumpets!”

It got back to me that his only comment on the show was

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HAL

HAL PRINCE
January 30, 1928 – July 31, 2019

HAL PRINCE and me at the Opening of CANDIDE

I was HAL PRINCE’s Casting Director for the better part of a decade.
We worked together on his revival of SHOW BOAT from its inception throughout its many productions all around the world. Our production of SHOW BOAT premiered at the North York Performing Arts Center in Toronto 26 years ago. I also worked with HAL on the most recent Broadway Revival of CANDIDE, as well as KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and PARADE.

This year alone, we have found ourselves saying goodbye to countless theater luminaries, including DIAHNN CARROLL, CAROL CHANNING, ANDREW ZERMAN, KAYE BALLARD, PHYLLIS NEWMAN, VALERIE HARPER, BILL ESPER, DORIS DAY, E. KATHERINE KERR, KATHERINE HELMOND, MARTIN CHARNIN, MAX WRIGHT, ALAN WASSER, ALVIN EPSTEIN, ERIC LAJUAN SUMMERS, TONI MORRISON, RIP TORN, GLORIA VANDERBILT, ANN CRUMB, TIM CONWAY, GEORGIA ENGEL, LUKE PERRY, ARTIE GAFFIN, MARION MCCLINTON, KYLE RENICK, RON LEIBMAN, RENE AUBERJONOIS, and So Many Others… But even among so many shattering losses to our Community this year, this one stands out.

HAL PRINCE died on July 31st at the age of 91. There will be a Celebration of his Life at the Majestic Theater next Monday December 16th.
I have never known a professional life without him in it, and the loss to the theater community is perhaps the most profound imaginable.

You see, (more…)