The Town Hall (www.thetownhall.org) has announced that award winning stars of Sunday In the Park With George, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters will be special guests at the intimate digital conversation event with Tony Award-winning playwright and director James Lapine and composer Stephen Sondheim. Moderated by award winning actress Christine Baranski, who was in the original off-Broadway production of Sunday In The Park With George at Playwrights Horizons, the evening will celebrate the release of Lapine’s new book Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I created "Sunday In The Park With George" (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). Putting It Together is being released the day of this event – August 3, 2021, and The Town Hall’s virtual conversation begins at 7PM EST.
In Putting It Together, Lapine tells the story of Sunday in the Park with George, the first of his collaborations with Sondheim. The new book takes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this iconic musical and chronicles the two-year odyssey of its creation.
On August 3, Lapine and Sondheim will come together to discuss Putting It Together and the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that commenced their decades-long working relationship. Patinkin and Peters will also be on hand to share their memories of this groundbreaking musical.
"The Town Hall is so excited to have the two original stars of Sunday In The Park With George, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters share in this very special evening with James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim and Christine Baranski," said Artistic Director Melay Araya. "Viewers can expect some fun behind the scenes stories during the creation and run of the show, and witness the reunion of these five theater icons."
In 1982, James Lapine, at the beginning of his career as a playwright and director, met Stephen Sondheim, nineteen years his senior and already a legendary Broadway composer and lyricist. Shortly thereafter, the two decided to write a musical inspired by Georges Seurat’s nineteenth-century painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Through conversations between Lapine and Sondheim, as well as most of the production team, and with a treasure trove of personal photographs, sketches, script notes, and sheet music, the two Broadway icons lift the curtain on their beloved musical. Putting It Together is a deeply personal remembrance of their collaboration and friend – ship and the highs and lows of that journey, one that resulted in the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning classic.
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About the Panelists
James Lapine is a preeminent director, playwright, screenwriter, and librettist. He is the recipient of three Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Passion, Falsettos, Into the Woods), as well as nine Tony Award nominations, five Drama Desk Awards, a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and a Peabody Award, among other honors. He has also been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Mr. Abbott Award for lifetime achievement in theater.
Stephen Sondheim is a composer, lyricist, and Broadway icon. He is the recipient of eight Tony Awards (including a Tony for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre), a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, an Academy Award for Best Song, eight Grammy Awards, eight Drama Desk Awards, and many other honors. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.
In 1980, Mandy Patinkin made his Broadway debut as Che in the original production of Evita – a performance that won him a Tony Award and catapulted him into a decorated career in theater, film, television and music recording. While Patinkin continues to perform live, he is perhaps best known for his onscreen roles in films and television programs like The Princess Bride, Chicago Hope and The Good Fight. Patinkin originated the role of Georges Seurat in the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1984, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George.
One of the country’s most critically acclaimed performers, Bernadette Peters is also one of its most decorated. The Tony-Award winning star of the original Broadway production of Song and Dance and the 1999 revival of Annie Get Your Gun has also been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Golden Globe and a host of other industry awards and nominations. Peters has recorded six solo albums and is a New York Times best-selling author of children’s books. Widely regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of Stephen Sondheim’s work, Peters originated the role of Dot/Marie in Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1984, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George.
One of the entertainment industry’s most honored actresses, Christine Baranski is an Emmy, two-time Tony, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Drama Desk and American Comedy Award winner. A graduate of the Juilliard School, Baranski received her big break in Tom Stoppard’s hit Broadway comedy "The Real Thing." She currently stars as "Diane Lockhart" in the critically-acclaimed "The Good Fight" on Paramount+, and next year will star in the highly-anticipated HBO limited series, "Gilded Age." She received an Honorary Doctorate from Juilliard and in 2018, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
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Praise for Putting It Together:
"James Lapine’s fascinating and rigorous, no-punches-pulled investigation . . . into what surely must be one of the most unlikely and chaotic journeys to a Pulitzer Prize and a place in the highest echelons of the American musical theater canon . . . [Putting
It Together] is actually a story of artistic steadfastness, revealing as much about the ultimate work as the experience the participants endured while making it."
–Alan Cumming,The New York Times Book Review
"[Putting It Together] shines . . . Beyond its obvious appeal to Broadway fans, this insider guide to creating art, including making mistakes and accepting criticism, will spark the interest of aspiring artists and writers."
–Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal
"[A] blend of oral history and theater memoir . . . [Putting It Together is] a captivating story embellished with photographs and examples of blocking sheets, set renderings, costume design sketches, and even some of Sondheim’s handwritten notes . . . Theater fans welcoming Broadway’s reopening . . . will enjoy revisiting one of its most glorious productions."
"This delightful book revisits the two years [Lapine and Sondheim] spent telling a fictionalized version of Seurat’s life . . . Art isn’t easy, as this entertaining look at the making of a cultural touchstone amply demonstrates."
"This lovely, lively portrait in time of how a musical was made, bit by bit by its makers, is irresistible. Lapine’s pointillist approach, applied in interviews with all the distinct characters whose input colored and created the work, paints an indelible picture of the captured moment. Sondheim’s achievement, its process revealed, still gleams with the mystery of art. How does he do it? I loved it."
"Just as James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece Sunday in the Park with George chronicles the sacrifice and struggle in the art of making art, so too does Putting It Together capture the painstaking, bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece energy of creating a new musical."
"When I was nineteen, I read the lyrics of ‘Putting It Together’ to my mother, to say that this is what I wanted to do with my life . . . With this book, I can finally see how they put it together."
"Luminous . . . A captivating oral history. . . This is a fascinating 360-degree panorama of showbiz at its most intense and creative."
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Fascinating and entertaining . . . Part memoir, part oral history, part behind-the-scenes tour of what goes behind the creation of a musical with outsized personalities."
"Sunday in the Park with George has always been like an oracle, bible, talisman, and holy grail all rolled into one for the benefit of my artistic soul. Whenever I am feeling weary, jaded, or frustrated, I turn to this show to inspire me and help me fall in love again with my art. Putting It Together has pulled back the curtain on how this magical show was created, and instead of diminishing its magic by shining a bright light on its creation, James Lapine has somehow made it that much more mystical and magical. Gratefully, I now revere the show and its creators even more than I ever thought possible."
"A century after George Seurat reinvented painting, so two theater artists, inspired by his luminous vision, did the same for the American musical. Putting It Together is the unsparing and touching chronicle of how James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim pulled off their unlikely triumph, told in their words and those of some three dozen collaborators. Challenging themselves and Broadway conventions every step of the way, they created an audacious show of shimmering beauty that changed their lives and has transfixed theatergoers ever since. Here is how they did it."
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MORE ABOUT THE TOWN HALL
Town Hall has played an integral part in the electrifying cultural fabric of New York City for more than 100 years. A group of Suffragists’ fight for the 19th Amendment led them to build a meeting space to educate people on the important issues of the day. During its construction, the 19th Amendment was passed, and on January 12, 1921 The Town Hall opened its doors and took on a double meaning: as a symbol of the victory sought by its founders, and as a spark for a new, more optimistic climate. In 1921, German composer Richard Strauss performed a series of concerts that cemented the Hall’s reputation as an ideal venue for musical performances. Since, Town Hall has been home to countless musical milestones: The US debuts of Strauss, and Isaac Stern; Marian Anderson’s first New York recital; in 1945, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker introduced bebop to the world; Bob Dylan’s first major concert in ’63; and much, much more.
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