The late Stephen Sondheim’s upcoming final musical, Here We Are, is the biggest mystery of the theater season.
The public knows next to nothing about this actual cultural event of one of the greatest composers of all time, which is only a few weeks away.
But one of the many puzzles is a special puzzle.
“Here We Are” contains sources familiar with the book and the score, hardly any songs in the second act.
One insisted it had “zero,” adding: “Steve bailed because he couldn’t write act 2. He gave it up and never thought it would finish.”
The insider continued, “There are only six songs in the first act, and one is repeated in every single scene.”
Talent agents also sent actors to play non-singing roles in the musical, eventually leading to a star-studded cast that included David Hyde Pierce and Bobby Cannavale.
When asked if there would be songs in Act 2, production spokesman Rick Miramontez declined to reveal details about the show.
Here We Are, directed by Joe Mantello Preview begins September 28th At the Shed in Hudson Yards is based on two films by Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel – 1972’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and 1962’s The Destroying Angel.
Act 1 is said to be Discreet Charm while Act 2 is Angel. The second part is heavily based on the book by playwright David Ives.
The legendary creator of ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘Into the Woods’, ‘Company’ and ‘Sunday in the Park With George’ died in late 2021 at the age of 91, and his final musical, in whatever state it was is a must-see for Sondheim fans.
But many doubt it’s ready for prime time.
“That’s half a show,” said a source.
And yet one that demands full price. Theater-goers have complained about the outrageous ticket prices, as the quality of the musical is unknown and it is based on material unfamiliar to many.
If you’re lucky, the seat will be $129, if not, $350. That’s more than Saturday night’s “Hamilton” and “The Lion King” on Broadway.
This exorbitant cost for the 15-week term is due to the huge $8 million expansion, according to one source.
“Improvement funds” allow commercial producers to subsidize their own shows at non-profit theaters. It’s a practice that’s now commonplace, but that $8 million figure is one of the largest ever, the source said.
Here We Are is produced by Tom Kirdahy, Sue Wagner, John Johnson and the Stephen Sondheim Trust.
As for the music included in the show, what is it like?
A source who heard the score said it had “several great melodies”. Another said that “it’s not great, Sondheim” and that it “sounds like David Yazbek when translated from French,” referring to the composer of “The Band’s Visit.”
Everyone agrees that “Here We Are” is unwieldy and half-finished.
But an industry veteran told Sondheim that allegedly has shelved the incomplete musical Seven months before his death, the money was later reinvested and about to begin the next phase of the long-running project. They surmised that he might even have given his collaborators directions for the play’s future.
It’s a good thing to spread new Sondheim music around the world – but ideally for under $350 a piece.
And this will be the first new Sondheim musical since Road Show ran at the Public Theater in 2008 to negative reviews.
We’ll see what the critics say about Here We Are when it hits theaters on October 22nd.