Theater buffs, acting students and budding playwrights will love this delicious masterclass on creating a Broadway musical. In 1982, Lapine began collaborating with Stephen Sondheim to create Sunday in the Park with George. Sondheim wrote the songs while Lapine wrote the book and directed the 1984 Broadway production. "Memory is uniquely personal and, as time passes, the facts of an event are often rewritten to reflect the teller and the stories he or she chooses to hold true," writes Lapine, explaining his decision to interview 40 people connected with the production. These conversations are presented throughout the book in a q&a format and form an oral history.
The conversations between Lapine and Sondheim are fascinating and insightful, especially detailing their writing routines. Sondheim still follows his training under Oscar Hammerstein: "Always think character and story, and then you think about the song." Sondheim's anecdotes also create delightful and precise mini-portraits of previous collaborators (Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, Hugh Wheeler and others). Lapine's conversations with cast members (including Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin and Christine Baranski) are also expansive, covering the production of George and other shows. Kudos to Lapine for keeping in some thorny conversations that don't always show him in the best light--he reminds Brent Spiner of their clashes on two projects, and Spiner replies, "Yes. You were new to the game. You didn't have a vocabulary to talk to actors."
Putting It Together offers musical theater fans front row center seats to creating a Broadway show with an impeccable lineup of tour guides. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant