New York Inspires Stephen Sondheim’s First New Song in Six Years

Sondheim on Sondheim, the Roundabout revue that opened last night, is annotated by the composer himself, appearing in projected scenes on the set. At intermission, what we see on those screens is a 1994 New York Magazine cover story about the man himself, headlined “Is Stephen Sondheim God?” And as the cast returns to the stage, they leap into the show’s only new song, a wry assessment of the man’s career, titled “God.” The lyrics are broken up with dialogue that bing-bing-bings among the various cast members, so they don’t quite read well on the page, but the first couple of stanzas go like this:


I mean the man’s a


Wrote the score to

Sweeney Todd!

With a nod,

To De Sade.

Well, he’s odd.

Well, he’s



The lyrics are so smart!

And the music has such heart!

It has heart?

Well, in part …

Let’s not start …

Call it art.

No, call it


Well! We have three things to report here. First of all, “God” turns out to have been written not by friends or colleagues but by Sondheim himself, the first wholly new song of his we’ve heard since his 2004 rewrite of The Frogs. Second, playbill.com has it on good authority that the title and lyrics were, in fact, inspired by our headline. Nice! And third — now, we’re not complaining about this, mind you — that’s not really our cover. The headline appeared on our table-of-contents page but not on the cover or even on the story. What you see up there onstage is a mock-up. (Who was really on the cover that week? Al Sharpton.) You can read the profile, which is by James Kaplan, here.

Related: Sondheim on Sondheim Reviewed [NYM]

New York Inspires Stephen Sondheim’s First New Song in Six Years