“I’m going to undertake a Sondheim show.” The first thing you notice when you announce that is how many opinions your friends and colleagues and fans have about his music. “What are you singing that’s rare?” you hear, as well as “Do you know this song that was cut from…?,” and all that sort of stuff. It’s something I love — knowing that really constructing a perfect Sondheim set might take me years. There’s something archaeological about his work. There has been so much work over such a long time that even the discarded songs are often more interesting than anyone else’s more familiar ones. Prepping a Sondheim set is like being a scholar of ancient Egypt: you’re always excavating another Pharaoh, finding another mummified song that you can bring back to life with your breath, discovering another mysterious layer of treasure under the already familiar, mysterious layers of treasure. Honestly, I didn’t think of the great pyramids until just now…but it strikes me as accurate, and a fun idea.
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