Stephen Sondheim was “a one-man era” in musical theater, according to Michael Phillips, film critic of the Chicago Tribune and a regular contributor to WFMT’s “Soundtrack” program.
Phillips interviewed Sondheim several times over the years and admires the “adventurous and unpredictable” career of the composer, who both emerged from the traditions of musical theater and shattered those traditions as he aimed higher and demanded more from the art form. From his lyrics to “West Side Story” to his groundbreaking works with Harold Prince (“Company,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd” and others), Sondheim displayed dramatic range, musical invention, and peerless creativity.
Phillips is host of “Being Alive: WFMT Remembers Stephen Sondheim,” a one-hour radio program on WTTW’s sister station.
“I decided to greenlight the program because classical listeners generally have a strong affinity for Sondheim’s scores,” said WFMT Vice President and General Manager George Preston. “‘A Little Night Music’ sounds, to me, like Maurice Ravel, and I have heard [American composer] Jake Heggie, no less, refer to ‘Sweeney Todd’ as the great American opera.”
“Being Alive: WFMT Remembers Stephen Sondheim” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WFMT. Visit WFMT’s website for 10 bonus Sondheim songs.