You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Random House Nabs New Biography of Stephen Sondheim Written By Variety Critic

Random House has acquired a new biography of musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim, to be written by Variety‘s London theater critic David Benedict.

Benedict will wrap up his eight-year tenure at Variety later this week to work full-time on the book, “How Did It Happen: The Life and Career of Stephen Sondheim.” Though not technically an authorized bio (which implies allowing the subject some level of control over what’s included), the book will incorporate the full participation of Sondheim, who’s allowed Benedict unrestricted access to the composer’s personal papers. “How Did It Happen” will be based on extensive interviews with Sondheim as well as information gathered from a wide circle of Sondheim’s friends and collaborators.

Over a long and influential career, the 84-year-old Sondheim has created a canon of works that are known for pushing the musical-theater genre into new realms of intelligence and ambition. Titles on his CV include “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “Company,” “Follies,” “Sweeney Todd,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Into the Woods.” Rob Marshall’s movie adaptation of the latter is on tap as a major holiday release this year from Disney.

Benedict and Random House aim to make “How Did It Happen” the definitive biography about Sondheim, previously the subject of Meryle Secrest’s 1998 book “Stephen Sondheim: A Life.” More recently, a two-volume collection of Sondheim’s lyrics were released in 2011 with extensive annotations by Sondheim, and James Lapine, Sondheim’s collaborator on “Sunday in the Park” and “Into the Woods,” directed the doc “Six by Sondheim,” which aired on HBO last year.

Random House vice president and exec editor David Ebershoff picked up the North American rights to the book from the Wylie Agency’s Andrew Wylie. Benedict is expected to deliver his first draft of “How Did It Happen” by December 2017.


More Legit

  • Beetlejuice review

    Broadway Review: 'Beetlejuice'

    “Such a bold departure from the original source material!” wisecracks the odd-looking fellow sitting on a coffin at the start of the Broadway musical “Beetlejuice.” The weird, nasty and outrageous title character is talking about a short lament just sung by a sad teen at her mother’s gravesite, as he breaks the fourth wall (“Holy [...]

  • Playwright Mark Medoff author of "Children

    Mark Medoff, 'Children of a Lesser God' Playwright, Dies at 79

    Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79. His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the Las Cruces Sun-News attributed the cause to cancer. “Children of a Lesser God” starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich [...]

  • Ink review

    Broadway Review: 'Ink' With Jonny Lee Miller

    Garish, lurid and brash, “Ink,” the British import now on Broadway in a Manhattan Theatre Club production, is the theatrical equivalent of its subject, the UK’s Daily Sun — the newspaper that reshaped British journalism and propelled Rupert Murdoch’s ascent to media mogul. Like the tabloid, it feels unsubstantial, rushed and icky. You can’t say [...]

  • All My Sons review

    London Theater Review: 'All My Sons' With Sally Field, Bill Pullman

    If “All My Sons” is showing its age, it sure shows no signs of abating. Just days after a major revival opened on Broadway, moving Annette Bening and Tracy Letts into the Tony zone, up the play pops in London. The Old Vic has arguably secured the starrier cast, too: Bill Pullman and Sally Field [...]

  • Tootsie review

    Broadway Review: 'Tootsie'

    The new Broadway adaptation of “Tootsie” is old-fashioned and proud of it — and it’s a surefire crowd-pleaser, in this musical spin on the 1982 film comedy with Santino Fontana in the Dustin Hoffman role. Robert Horn (book) and Tony-winner David Yazbek (score) have a high old time poking fun at theatrical rituals — the [...]

  • Kelli O'Hara

    Listen: How Kelli O'Hara Brings #MeToo to 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    “Kiss Me, Kate” is one of the best-known titles in musical theater. But in this day and age, the “Taming of the Shrew”-inspired comedy’s depiction of the gender dynamic seems downright, well, problematic. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Kelli O’Hara is well aware of that, and so were her collaborators on the Roundabout Theatre [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content