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"What Makes Sondheim Great?" (Adult Learning)

Upcoming Sessions

1. Sunday, March 19, 2023 26 Adar 5783

2:00 PM - 3:30 PMTemple Shir Tikvah

2. Sunday, March 26, 2023 4 Nisan 5783

2:00 PM - 3:30 PMTemple Shir Tikvah

3. Sunday, April 2, 2023 11 Nisan 5783

2:00 PM - 3:30 PMTemple Shir Tikvah

4. Sunday, April 9, 2023 18 Nisan 5783

2:00 PM - 3:30 PMTemple Shir Tikvah

5. Sunday, April 16, 2023 25 Nisan 5783

2:00 PM - 3:30 PMTemple Shir Tikvah

6. Sunday, April 23, 2023 2 Iyar 5783

2:00 PM - 3:30 PMTemple Shir Tikvah

7. Sunday, April 30, 2023 9 Iyar 5783


HYBRID EVENT - RSVP Below to attend in-person. Link to join online is in the directory sent to Temple members and friends -- please check your most recent temple email.

What Makes Sondheim Great?

Stephen Sondheim is commonly thought to be the most important musical theater composer and lyricist of the past fifty years, and the single most influential force in bringing the Broadway musical into the modern era.  What makes him great? 

In this class, we will unpack some of Sondheim’s major works:  Gypsy, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George.  We’ll explore the idea that Sondheim functions as a “playwright in song,” crafting songs that deepen the characters and further the plot. We’ll see how Sondheim has elevated the genre from the “integrated musicals” of his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein, to the “concept musicals” he created with Harold Prince, and the emotionally sophisticated shows he wrote with James Lapine.

Presentations will include video clips from shows and recorded interviews with Mr. Sondheim.

Participants will be encouraged to see videos of full shows, via links supplied by the instructor, and to listen to selected songs.

The class will include opportunities for students to share their reactions to what they have heard or viewed and to practice analyzing Sondheim’s work, including “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

Instructor Biography

Gail Leondar-Wright, now retired, spends her time studying and teaching about the works of Stephen Sondheim. She facilitates an online national Sondheim Study Group and gives periodic webinars comparing the works of Sondheim to those of other composers and lyricists. She has taught about Sondheim at Lasell Village, for OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts and UMass Boston and for the Rainbow Lifetime Learning Institute at Boston University. Gail has a Masters in Performance Studies from NYU and a BA in Drama from UC Berkeley.

Syllabus & Homework

Download syllabus here. All homework is optional, but viewing the videos and/or listening to the audio will most certainly enhance your experience during class.





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Fri, January 27 2023 5 Sh'vat 5783