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The Stephen Sondheim Society

The Stephen Sondheim Society was re-formed in 1993, with the first edition of their Newsletter being published in Autumn 1993. This first edition covered the background to the formation of the Society and information about those involved in its inception. The following is taken from the first edition of the Newsletter:

"Welcome to The Stephen Sondheim Society and the first of what is planned to be a regular series of newsletters ... we extend a very warm welcome and invite you to subscribe to membership - joining now you will become a founder member of a group that it is hoped will go from strength to strength in capturing the increasingly wide body of interest in this extraordinary composer.

The Society has been formed by a committee of theatre professionals, journalists, academics and enthusiasts all with a passion for the work of the composer. The Society's aims and objectives are to promote the work of Mr. Sondheim; to provide educational and academic material relating to his work; to develop the widening interest shown both in the UK and abroad (there is no other such organisation, even in the US!); to collect and disseminate information about news and listings of major professional and amateur productions. ……..The Society also hopes to offer the following:

  • Theatre visits arranged to Sondheim productions around the country, perhaps abroad, and other events, for example lectures. Participatory workshops and performances in an annual Sondheim weekend (all ideas welcome).

  • Special offers on Sondheim recordings and merchandise available exclusively to members.

  • Your questions on Sondheim shows answered by experts.

  • An Annual Dinner.

The Committee Members are as follows:

MARK SHENTON - He set up and edits British Theatre Index, was until recently, archivist to Cameron Mackintosh and writes for Plays International and other publications.

STEPHEN BANFIELD - Elgar Professor of Music and Head of the School of Performance Studies at the University of Birmingham ... see inside for details of his new book on Sondheim.

KEITH TAYLOR - teaches at Coventry University and is Artistic Director of Coventry Community Music Theatre, who have performed Merrily, Forum, West Side Story, Sweeney and The Frogs (in an Olympic swimming pool)…..organised a major Sondheim Conference in 1991 and a World Aids Day Sondheim celebration.

EDWARD CURNESS - proprietor of Dress Circle, London's leading specialist music store.

IAN MACBEY - has one of the biggest private collections of related albums and CDs in the UK.

STEVE AUBREY - with wide musical interests ... this includes a close association with the London Pops Orchestra and the Northern Pops Orchestra who specialise in show music.

We are pleased to be able to advise you that Mr. Sondheim has endorsed the formation of the Society. He writes from New York: "I'm flattered and delighted that you want to resuscitate the Society ... And no, I don't know of any similar group in the United States, which is probably the healthiest thing about our country". We have asked Miss Julia McKenzie to be our patron and she has graciously accepted. "It all sounds very good so far - well done. Yes, of course I will be happy to continue as patron ... Best wishes to you all - and thank you for re-forming this Society" her letter reads."

That was the state of play at the beginning. Things have changed somewhat since then. We are now run by the Chairman, Steve Aubrey, who is assisted by a paid administrator/editor, Lynne Chapman. Our advisors are Mark Shenton and Stephen Banfield, and to our patrons Stephen Sondheim and Julia McKenzie we have recently added the name of Ned Sherrin, responsible for introducing many of us in the UK to Mr. Sondheim's work with Side By Side By Sondheim.

The principal aim of the Society is still to promote the works of Stephen Sondheim in the UK and elsewhere, and to create a greater interest and appreciation of them by means of circulating information and providing a focal point where those interested can share such interests.

To achieve this the Society intends:

  • To issue regular news and information on current and forthcoming productions and recordings of the Sondheim works, together with any items of interest or other matters relevant to Mr. Sondheim.

  • To encourage educational projects relating to the works of Mr Sondheim, including workshops and amateur productions of his works, and to arrange for members' attendance at such performances where appropriate.

  • To arrange theatre parties to professional productions of the works in London and elsewhere if the demand is sufficient.

  • To work in conjunction with Mr. Sondheim in the promotion and publicising of his works.

  • To exchange information relevant to Mr. Sondheim and his works with members of the Society, the public, or others if requested.

  • To maintain a database on all the works and related matters.

  • To publish from time to time articles or other works on Mr Sondheim, his life and achievements.

  • If time and resources permit, to create and preserve a record of Mr. Sondheim's work, wherever possible in written, visual or audio form so as to establish an archive for the use of members, students and all others interested in the works of Mr. Sondheim.

  • To do all things which are consistent with the above to give full effect to the Aims of the Society and the promotion of Mr. Sondheim and his works.

The Society currently has around 600 members, including members in Australia; Austria; Belgium; France; Germany; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; Singapore; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Netherlands and USA.

We are particularly proud that the World Premiere of Saturday Night only came about because of the Society. Those of you who either saw the show or own the CD will know of our involvement. Stephen Banfield organised a Study Day for the Society in Birmingham, at which some of his students performed a concert version of the show. This was repeated the following year at a subsequent Study Day held at The Bridewell Theatre, London, in the presence of Mr. Sondheim. One of our members, David Oldcorn, asked him if he would allow the show to be performed, and Mr. Sondheim agreed. The rest is history.

Other events we have organised have included trips to New York, trips to shows in London and Leicester, teas and dinners with speakers such as Julia McKenzie and Ned Sherrin and talks from directors such as Paul Kerryson.

Our administrator is kept busy responding to queries from all over the world and has recently set up a Society web site which has generated a great deal of interest. She has also compiled an index to the first 14 Newsletters, which is sent to all new members and is a very useful tool.

For further information about The Stephen Sondheim Society, including details of membership and how to obtain back copies of newsletters, please see the Society web site at: http://www.innotts.co.uk/~chapman

Our e-mail address is: sondheimsociety@yahoo.com

And our address is:

The Stephen Sondheim Society
265 Wollaton Vale
Wollaton
Nottingham
NG8 2PX
England


- Lynne Chapman
Administrator

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