Very recently, I saw the revival of Stephen Sondheim‘s Company, directed by John Doyle, the same genius who did the Sweeney Todd revival. Sondheim on his easiest day is difficult. That being said, the payoff for his stuff is amazing, still it’s not something you would want to walk in, join the chorus of a show, and try to learn in two weeks–I’ve done that, and I really don’t advise it.
Anyway, we’ll get to the vid I found on Mark Evanier’s site in a moment. I want to give you an opportunity to appreciate the song itself, one of the most difficult of Sondheim’s difficult stable of work. And, brilliant, there’s a bunch of different performances online:
Here’s the setup. Amy and Paul are getting married. Amy is having… a slight anxiety attack.
Here’s Madeline Kahn as Amy (Update for replaced version of the vid: after a performance of “Loveland” from Follies):
Here’s Carol Burnett from the rather damn good Sondheim revue, Putting it Together. Notice how they slowed it down for her, but she pays them back by…well, being Carol Burnett. To answer the obvious questions, yes, that is Bronson Pinchot and John Barrowman (from Torchwood) also on stage with her. See? You Doctor Who fans should buy it.
There’s a point to all this. Trust me. Keep going. Skip the vids if you’ve already seen them, but keep going.
And here’s Beth Howland, and this is a great behind the scenes piece from the recording of the original album of Company in 1970. This is fast as hell, folks, and I love how he wants to hear the tune in there. Je-sus.
Okay, and for completist’s sake, here’s some footage someone shot of the aforementioned revival, with Heather Laws doing great work as Amy, and I’m very glad they were able to zoom in and let you see her face as she went through several stages of stark raving terror. (Update: I think this is from the DVD, so even better.)
You can snag the original cast recording of that version here. (Update: and on DVD here and Blu-Ray here.)
Now, having watched those and having some appreciation for the difficulty of the piece, let me set the stage for this. You’re a student and you’re on a television special, getting direction from Sondheim himself on how to do the song. No pressure.
I agree with Evanier though (found the vid here on his site), watch Sondheim’s face when he’s pleased. That’s really cool.