Sondheim Musical, in development for years, seems unlikely
A big lingering question for theatergoers following news that prolific producer Scott Rudin will “take a step back” from his stage projects: what will happen to his developing shows, including the musical by Stephen Sondheim “Buñuel”, whose last report was scheduled to be produced Off Broadway at the Public Theater?
Rudin, who faces decades-long bullying charges, was a commercial producer attached to the musical.
But the public is now saying: this is not happening.
Following reports on Rudin, the public released a statement on April 22 saying he had not worked with him in years. Responding to a follow-up question, Laura Rigby, a public spokesperson, said last week that Sondheim informed the theater last year that he was no longer developing the musical. (The audience clarified that his cancellation had nothing to do with Rudin.)
Sondheim, who turned 91 at the end of March, did not respond to emailed questions about the status of the project.
The work, based on films by Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel, promised to be one of the last chances for theatergoers to see a new music scene from the most revered composer in musical theater. Sondheim had been developing it for a decade with playwright David Ives (“Venus in Fur”), who also did not respond to email requests for comment.
Sondheim had previously stated that the show would consist of two acts, the first based on the filmmaker “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972), and the second on “The Exterminating Angel” (1962).
The musical, he said, was about “trying to find a place to have dinner.”
He offered more details during a 2014 appearance at the New Yorker Festival, explaining that the first act involved a group of people trying to find a place to dine, while the second focused on the people who ultimately did exactly. that – and then got trapped in hell. conditions.
The project would have been the composer’s first major musical in more than a decade. His last was “Road Show,” a 2008 collaboration with John Weidman on two brothers constantly seeking to enrich themselves, which was presented to the public.
“Buñuel” hosted a mini-workshop to the Audience in November 2016, with a cast that included Michael Cerveris, Heidi Blickenstaff and Sierra Boggess, with an expected opening date in late 2017. The New York Post reported at the time that Joe Mantello, who directed “Wicked” and the 2004 Broadway cover of Sondheim’s “Assassins”, was scheduled to direct.
Cerveris said in an email last week that the first act was basically finished by the time of the workshop, and the second was “sketched out, but still waiting for a lot of the music.” He said a later music workshop was scheduled, but was canceled so Sondheim could use the time to continue writing.
Then, he said, the trail got mostly cold. He said he was sorry to hear what appeared to be the show’s demise.
“It was a surreal, baffling and often hilarious play,” he said. And Steve was experimenting, as always, with fascinating and complex musical structures that David’s sensibilities seemed to suit very well, I thought.
Sondheim is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize (in 1985, for “Sunday in the Park With George”) and eight Tony Awards (including one for a lifetime’s work), more than any other composer. A remake of the film “West Side Story”, which he wrote the lyrics, is scheduled for the end of the year. And whenever New York theaters fully reopen, the Classic Stage Company plans to revive “Assassins.”
Cerveris said that although he hadn’t heard anything from “Buñuel” for several years, he was still hoping for another show from Sondheim.
“Marriage to Buñuel seemed pretty decent to me at the time, and the world has only gotten darker and more bizarre ever since,” he said. “I would have loved to see it come to fruition. But then I will always want more Sondheim in the world.