The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia

This week's review charts the life and career of the late composer and lyricist whose groundbreaking work revitalized the world of musical theater

The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia

Pender, Richard F. Rowman & Littlefield, 2021
652p bibl index, 9781538115862 $135.00, 9781538115879 $128.00

As the former executive editor and publisher of the website Everything Sondheim and managing editor of The Sondheim Review, Pender has impeccable credentials for producing this volume. The alphabetically arranged entries cover all aspects of Sondheim’s career, including all musicals and other works and significant personnel such as George Abbott and Arthur Laurents. Ten songs are covered in depth to illustrate the breadth and depth of Sondheim’s composition, and additional essays cover such varied topics as favorite films, opera, and musical likes (and dislikes). Essays on individual shows include synopses of production history, musical numbers, scores, critical reviews, recordings, and original cast and characters; all essays are well written and focused on facts rather than Pender’s opinions. Some black-and-white photos are included, although they could be more crisply focused. The sole criticism to this otherwise excellent resource is the index, which does not list every song, performer, or character mentioned in the essays. That point aside, this encyclopedia is required reading for those interested in musical theater, and it will be particularly valuable when read in conjunction with Hat Box: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim (2011). 

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers.
A. J. Adam, Strategic Planning Online
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Music
Choice Issue: Apr 2022

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