Merry Christmas from The Stephen Sondheim Society!
Wishing you all the best for the festive season. It's not easy to find a Sondheim song suitable for the season, but there are two "half-Sondheims" that might get you in the Christmas mood...
The first, written with Mary Rodgers, is "Christmas Island at Christmas Time", which in typical Sondheim style subverts your Christmas expectations with a song about how hot is it at this time of year – if you live on the Indian Ocean's Christmas Island, south of Java, Indonesia! Singing this Christmas calypso is SSSSPOTY winner Kris Olsen at the Society's cabaret in 2013:
The second, also performed at our 2013 Christmas cabaret, is the more traditional "If I Had Three Wishes for Christmas", written with Jule Styne for Gypsy. The song, performed here by Kate Hume, was cut:
If I had three wishes for Christmas, I'd make my first wish for a tree.
I'd make my second for a gift from someone, A remembrance from one who is dear to me.
I'd make my third for a snowball, And if my three wishes came true,
On Christmas night I'd light my tree,
The snow falling silently, And open my Christmas present from you.
I'd make my third for a snowball, And if my three wishes came true, On Christmas night I'd light my tree, The snow falling silently,
And open my Christmas present from you.
There is actually a third Christmas number in the Sondheim catalogue, entitled "Christmas Carol". It was "arranged" for the Broadway play I Know My Love (1949), although the song was only added for the 1951 post-Broadway tour. As I understand it, it was Sondheim's first professional credit, and according to one report, he was wrongly named in the playbill as Clifford Sondheim (although I've not been able to find any evidence for this).
Pictured here is a – presumably amended – playbill from the Gayety Theatre productionin Baltimore, Maryland, in which Steve is correctly named. Unfortunately, there are no known recordings. If anyone knows otherwise, I'd love to hear from you.
This has been a challenging year for most of us, although the theatre industry seems to have been particularly badly hit. Let's hope that things improve in 2021! All the best... Craig & the Trustees