Saturday, December 18, 2010

Taking A Bullet For Stephen Sondheim

If you read me blog regularly, you may or may not recall that I am a huge fan of the composer Stephen Sondheim (in fact, I'm hoping to write a post about him soon). In any case, Stephen Sondheim is coming to Salt Lake City on February 1 to talk about his life and career (and probably promote his new book, Finishing the Hat (which I asked Jonah to get me for Christmas)). Anyway, Jonah and I bought tickets for it, and I am very, very excited to finally see my idol in person.

Two nights ago I had a dream. Jonah and I were at this upcoming event, and someone was attempting to kill Mr. Sondheim. I saw the gunman take out his pistol and aim it at Stephen Sondheim, and as he fired, I leaped on stage in front of my favorite composer and was shot instead. Several people wrestled the gun away from the would-be assassin as I crumpled to the floor. Jonah leaped on stage to my side as I lay bleeding and asked, "Why did you do that?! He's old. He's probably going to die soon anyway. Why would you put yourself in that situation?"

I replied that I couldn't allow someone to rob the world of Stephen Sondheim and his genius before it was his true time to leave this earth. Very melodramatic, huh? Well, I am an actor, after all.

As Jonah sobbed over me, Stephen Sondheim knelt by my side and thanked me for saving his life. He could see that I was dying and asked if he could do anything for me. I lay there gasping and said, "Could you please write a song for me?" He said he would.

That's when I woke up. I assume I died.

Of course, as I began to be more awake, the dream seemed absolutely absurd to me. Yet there was a part of me that was really proud that I was willing to take a bullet for one of my heroes. I am in real life, by nature, somewhat of a coward in some ways, and taking a bullet for someone seems like something that I wouldn't necessarily be willing to do. Knowing myself, I think I'd be more apt to hide under my seat or freeze in a panic than leap on stage like some action hero and get shot. Yet, at the same time, in the dream, it was something I did completely by instinct, without thinking about it at all. I saw a man in danger - a man that I greatly admire - and I did what I had to do to protect him; and even though it was only a dream, I was kind of proud of myself for doing so. I also thought it was a bit conceited of me to expect Stephen Sondheim to write a song in my honor. But I did save his life, after all, so maybe it's not such an unreasonable request.

The funny thing is, when I told Jonah about the dream, he said, almost word for word, what he said in the dream: that Sondheim was old and probably didn't have many years left, and why would I put myself in that position when I still had us to live for. I said what I said above: I didn't think about it; I just did it by instinct. It was what I felt I should do. Jonah jokingly said that if something like that happens, I need to stay in my seat. I said I can't be responsible for where instinct takes me. :-)

What does the dream mean? Well, first I think it exemplifies just how much I love and admire Stephen Sondheim and his work. But I also think there is a part of me that realizes how old Stephen Sondheim is (he's nearly 81) and is selfishly worried that he will die before I get to meet him (or before he finishes his next book, Look, I Made a Hat). I saw him on "The Colbert Report" the other night, and he looks just fine. But I've always wanted to see him in person and meet him, and I finally get a chance to do the former, at least; so I think I'm just subconsciously worried that something will get in the way of that, and that's probably what the dream means.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing him and hearing what he has to say, and I really am planning on writing a post soon talking more about my relationship with Sondheim and his music. Hopefully, I'll get it out sooner rather than later.


Original Mohomie said...

Wait, how does one get tickets to this? He wrote my favorite musical, and I really like his style and identified with his thoughts when I heard him in an interview on the radio. I suspect your love and admiration runs deeper, though, so I'll let you take the bullet if it comes to that. ;-)

Gay LDS Actor said...

What's your favorite musical?

Tickets can be gotten through Kingsbury Hall at this website:

My love and admiration for this man do, indeed, run very deep.

Original Mohomie said...

Well, it may seem cliche or typical, being probably the most "accessible" of his works, but I've loved Into the Woods since I saw it on Bravo as a teenager. I didn't grasp it all then, but I knew it spoke to me in ways I couldn't describe, and it has been unfolding for me ever since. I like to watch it once a year around New Year's.

Other than that, I've really only heard bits and pieces, couldn't quite get through the video of Sunday in the Park with George but love "Move On" (again, something I need to learn better), and enjoyed Company on video a lot. I bought a boxed DVD set of his works and have been meaning to watch Sweeney Todd.

Oh, and I really liked the music on Dick Tracy when it came out but only a couple of years ago realized it was his work, and I thought, "Of course." :-)

Gay LDS Actor said...

No, I absolutely love Into the Woods. It's one of my favorites. I completely agree with you that it continually "unfolds" for me as well. I, too, didn't appreciate it when I saw it on Broadway 21 years ago, but it has become one of my favorites.

Sunday in the Park is a hard one for some people to get through (myself included the first time I saw it), but I think it's such a brilliant piece and says so much about the craft of art in general.

I love Sweeney Todd. If you do watch it, see the George Hearn/Angela Lansbury stage version first before you watch the Johnny Depp version, for example. The stage version is the fullest and most satisfyiing, in my opinion.

I quite like Company, which was especially innovative for its time. I saw a stage version about two years ago that was absolutely phenomenol.

I like the music from Dick Tracy, too (but then, I like just about everything he does). :-)

Corey said...

oh my gosh i love him! his musicals list in my top favorites ever! especially Sweeney Todd and into the woods!