What was so different about Sondheims musicals?
Over the course of Sondheim's career he has experimented with all sorts of different kinds of musicals. Each one he was involved with was unique and different to others at the time. Right through from West Side Story to Passione, Sondheim taken something weather it be art, life, horror or comedy and put it to music.
His first Broadway musical was West Side Story. He worked as a lyricist and it was his first major musical. It became so successful and was different to anything else that was currently being produced. First performed in 1957 it shook audiences with its powerful and aggressive dancing, storyline and score. It destroyed many preconceptions about form and content of American musicals. It was met with mixed reviews but was one of the most successful shows on Broadway. It was the start of Sondheim's career and lead to his next musicals Gypsy and Anyone Can Whistle also known for their content and new ideas.
Gypsy was performed in 1959, based on the memoirs of the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her crazy mother. The show didn't have the happy, positive aspect like most musicals of the time, it was a real story which was not all that pleasant. It did reasonably well but more importantly backed up Sondheim's talent as a lyricist after the success of West Side Story.
Sondheim was again just a lyricist for A Funny thing happened on the way to Forum but had a big part to play in the shows success. The main difference between this show and other Broadway hits was that it was so funny. It had much reworking and a tension filled opening night but surprisingly turned out to be a hit. It was an adult pantamine and was...