Cover of The Dramatist Season in Review 2022-2023
Ask Me Where I’m Going: A Conversation with Sheldon Harnick
Sheldon Harnick by A. E. Kieren
Illustration: A. E. Kieren

In 2017, I was exploring the idea of doing a book of interviews with theatre composers and lyricists. Working chronologically and having already interviewed Stephen Sondheim in depth several years earlier for The Dramatist, I began with other living greats of that generation. I ultimately abandoned the project to write a different book, The Reason to Sing, about acting while singing (published by Routledge in 2021), and to work on a musical. But one of those early interviews was with Sheldon Harnick. I had known Sheldon since the late 1970s when he became a great supporter of my work and a friend.

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Craig Carnelia
Craig Carnelia

 is a composer/lyricist. Broadway - Music and Lyrics: Working; Is There Life After High School? Lyrics: Sweet Smell of Success; Imaginary Friends. Off-Broadway - 3 Postcards (Playwrights Horizons). Regional - Poster Boy (Williamstown); Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief (Goodspeed). Longtime Council member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Monochromatic photograph of a white man with thin, curly, white hair looking directly at the camera through dark framed glasses. He wears a black turtleneck and blazer.
Sheldon Harnick

(1924-2023) was a lyricist and composer probably best known for his collaborations with composer Jerry Bock on musicals including Fiddler on the Roof (Tony Award), Fiorello! (Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize), and She Loves Me (Grammy Award). His career began in the 1950s with songs in revues such as “The Boston Beguine” and “The Merry Little Minuet.” Some of his other musicals with Jerry Bock include Tenderloin, The Apple Tree, and The Rothchilds. Other collaborations include Rex (with Richard Rodgers), A Christmas Carol (with Michel Legrand), A Wonderful Life (with Joe Raposo), The Phantom Tollbooth (with Arnold Black and Norton Juster), and The Audition (with Marvin Hamlisch). He wrote three musicals himself: Dragons, A Doctor in Spite of Himself, and Malpractice Makes Perfect. He also contributed songs to the films The Heartbreak Kid, Blame It on Rio (with Cy Coleman), and Aaron’s Magic Village (with Michel Legrand). In the world of opera, he provided librettos for Jack Beeson’s Cyrano, Dr. Heidegger’s Fountain of Youth, and Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines; Henry Mollicone’s Coyote Tales, Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land; and Thomas Z. Shepard’s Love in Two Countries. Sheldon was the recipient of two Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, three gold records, and a platinum record. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dramatists Guild in 2010, of which he was a member for more than 60 years, serving on Council for over 50 of those years. Additionally, he served as President of the Dramatists Guild Foundation from 1992-2005. He died June 23, 2023, at the age of 99.