Monday, October 11

Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat published this week

Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat is due for publication on 14th October. It is the Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim (Volume 1) and a compendium of the lyrics from his first musical Saturday Night (1954) to Merrily We Roll Along (1981), along with his commentaries and observations. He is currently working on Volume II:

Finishing the Hat provides a brilliant insight into the art of writing for musical theatre.  It is a fascinating book written in a very forthright and perceptive way. It takes its name from a song in Sunday in the Park with George which describes Seurat reflecting on the creative process. “Studying the hat - entering the world of the hat - reaching through the world of the hat - like a window.”

Sondheim says he was originally asked to do a book of collected lyrics 14 years ago but it was only four years ago that he decided to do it: “I thought, I’m reaching an age where if I want to put down on paper what I think about song writing for the theatre and the musicals, now is the time to do it."

As well as providing Sondheim’s lyrics in full, Finishing the Hat provides a master class in the art of lyric-writing laying down the golden rules: less is more; content dictates form: God is in the details and clarity is everything.

Sondheim reviews his first thirteen shows from beginning to end resulting in a book full of sketches of initial ideas and second thoughts, rehearsal shots, backstage tantrums, lessons learned and glimpses of the man beneath the material.

You can order Finishing the Hat here.

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