Cover art of the Musical Theatre Issue: Cartoon arms and legs with tux sleeves, fine shoes, and jewelry; and in the background, piano keys and sheet music wallpaper
Rhyme with Sondheim

This roundtable took place in the Mary Rodgers Room at the Dramatists Guild of America on October 9, 2018. At the last minute, Stephen Sondheim could not join the panelists in person, so he sent his questions to be read aloud. After this transcript was made, Mr. Sondheim and the panelists included a few additional remarks. The panelists were chosen by Mr. Sondheim to cover most of the predominate styles of contemporary lyric writing as well as a playwright who writes in rhyming verse.

  • Amanda Green, David Ives, Stephen Schwartz, and Steven Sater
    Amanda Green, David Ives, Stephen Schwartz, and Steven Sater. Photo by Michael Epps for The Dramatist.
  • Stephen-Sondheim
    Stephen Sondheim

For clarity, the panelists say “Steven” when referring to Steven Sater, “Stephen” when referring to Stephen Schwartz, and “Steve” when referring to Stephen Sondheim.

Stephen Sondheim: Thank you all for taking part in this roundtable. To begin with I want to urge everyone to speak in rhyming couplets so that the readers will be convinced that we know what we’re talking about. [Laughter]

Let me ask each of you if you remember when you first became aware of words sounding alike? Was it nursery rhymes? Dr. Seuss? Games such as One Potato or rope skipping or is that just simply my ancient generation? Was it pop songs?

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Amanda Green
Amanda Green

is a Tony-nominated lyricist and composer. Broadway: Mr. Saturday Night (lyrics); On The Twentieth Century (additional lyrics); Hands On A Hardbody (lyrics, co-composer); Bring It On (co-lyricist); High Fidelity (lyrics). TV: Peter Pan Live (NBC; Additional Lyrics); “The 2014 Kennedy Center Honors” (CBS; special lyrics) for the Tom Hanks Tribute; The Wonder Pets (Nick, Jr). She is the first woman to win the Frederick Loewe Award for Outstanding Composition and is the first woman to serve as President of the Dramatists Guild.

David Ives
David Ives

has adapted four French verse comedies: The LiarThe School For Lies, The Heir Apparent, and The Metromaniacs.

Steven Sater
Steven Sater

won two Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, as well as an Olivier Award for Spring Awakening. Other musicals include Alice By Heart, The Nightingale, Prometheus BoundSome Lovers, and Murder at the Gates. Plays include: New York Animals, Carbondale Dreams, and Arms on Fire. Currently: a new musical series for Amazon.

Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz

wrote the music and lyrics for the current Broadway hit Wicked and has also contributed music and/or lyrics to Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Rags, Children Of Eden, and The Prince Of Egypt.