HBO's 'Six By Sondheim' Was Great, So Let's All Just Revel In It
It is unnecessary and probably basely redundant to say that Stephen Sondheim is a living legend. But screw that: Stephen Sondheim is a living legend. The new HBO documentary Six By Sondheim was a smash hit critically with its premiere Monday night and as a result, today we are having a lot of Sondheim-related feelings.
Six By Sondheim focuses on, as the title would suggest, six songs by Stephen Sondheim: "Being Alive," "Opening Doors," "Something's Coming," "I'm Still Here," "Sunday," and "Send In The Clowns." The New Yorker's TV critic Emily Nussbaum put our feelings about the documentary best in her review:
For the true Sondheim fan, too much is not enough. Go ahead, televise a star-studded birthday party every year from the 92nd Street Y. Air twenty-five separate revivals of “Company” on PBS. Do Sondheim as opera, do Sondheim as cabaret, produce a misbegotten film adaptation of “Sweeney Todd”—we don’t mind, we’ll still go see it.
As most things that remind us of our raging musical theater geek side, this documentary sent us down one of those dangerous YouTube spirals, one of those black holes of the Internet — but an entirely enjoyable one, as it took us through some of the most powerful performances of Sondheim's so thoroughly storied work.
So we're gonna pull you down with us. You wouldn't have clicked on this article if you didn't want some Sondheim. So here are some of our favorite performances:
(Warning: May contain a lot of Company. Sorry not sorry)
"America" As Performed By Debbie Allen & The West Side Story Cast
It's one of the best physical interpretations of Sondheim's lyrics that we can remember. Dat dancing. Debbie Allen, man. Debbie Allen.
"Marry Me A Little" As Performed By Raul Esparza
We will marry you a little, Raul Esparza! We will marry you a lot!
"Ladies Who Lunch" As Performed By Anna Kendrick In Camp
Trust me, this was a game-changing performance for many a millennial musical theater lover. "She's fucked, I'm ready, the goddamned show must go on"? Iconic.
"Sorry/Grateful" As Performed By Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, & Jim Walton
Colbert's not the strongest of singers to take on this song, but his intonation and his charm here sell the emotion and the story behind the song, and in the end that's what matters.
"Rose's Turn" As Performed By Bette Midler And Patti Lupone
Now if we're going powerhouse singing, you gotta go "Rose's Turn." We couldn't handle the Sophie's choice of choosing between Bette Midler, Patti Lupone, and Bernadette Peters, so we put them all together.
They're all so great!
Elaine Stritch's Rendition Of "I'm Still Here"
Stritch said she didn't want to sing this song until she was old enough to mean it. She cheated a little, but damn did she pull it off.
"Finishing the Hat" As Performed By Mandy Patinkin
Um, Homeland should give Mandy Patinkin a musical number. We're just saying. It might fix some things.
"Another Hundred People" As Performed By Angel Desai
Yes, more Company. Why isn't Angel Desai in more things?
"Send In the Clowns" As Performed By Judi Dench
Well now we're sad.
"Being Alive" As Performed By Raul Esparza
The perfect closing number? The perfect closing number.