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.
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?