HBO’s new documentary is “Six by Sondheim,” the story of six songs from the remarkable lyricist of “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” and composer/lyricist of “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeny Todd,” “Company,” “Follies,” “Into the Woods,” and many, many more. It premieres tonight on at 9 Eastern. My friend Odie Henderson writes for Rogerebert.com:
Mixing interview footage with performances of the titular number of songs, “Six by Sondheim” is a love letter to the greatest living American composer, Stephen Sondheim. This is the man who gave Mama Rose her turn, Mrs. Lovett her pie filling, and every Jet on NYC’s West Side a mission statement. If you are familiar with these characters, and love them as I do, “Six by Sondheim” will play like a little slice of HBO broadcasting heaven. If not, this excellent documentary provides all the juicy details you’ll need to become a lifelong fan.
Be sure to read the astute appreciation by Frank Rich in New York Magazine. I highly recommend Sondheim’s book, Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes. And the neglected gem, The Last of Sheila, co-written by Sondheim, a nasty little murder mystery with a great twist and a wickedly funny take on Hollywood egos. But most of all, I recommend the songs.