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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim, NPR’s Scott Simon to appear at IU Auditorium

IU Department of Theatre and Drama hosting pair for Ralph L. Collins Memorial Lecture

WHAT: An Evening with Stephen Sondheim and Scott Simon
WHEN: Thursday, April 30, 8 p.m.
WHERE: IU Auditorium
TICKETS: Free, but tickets are required. For ticket information, call 812-855-1103 or visit the IU Auditorium box office at 1211 E. Seventh St.

March 26, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, widely considered the most influential artist working in American musical theater over the past half-century, will visit Indiana University in April at the invitation of IU's Department of Theatre and Drama.

Sondheim will appear with author Scott Simon, host of NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday," in a live, unscripted conversation titled "An Evening with Stephen Sondheim and Scott Simon" on April 30 at 8 p.m. at IU Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public, and is made possible by the Ralph L. Collins Memorial Lecture Fund. Tickets are currently available.

"It is a thrill to have a theatrical legend like Stephen Sondheim visit Indiana University during our 75th anniversary season," said Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of the Department of Theatre and Drama. "This is particularly exciting for our B.F.A. musical theater students, all of whom hope to become the next 'triple threats' on Broadway."

Stephen Sondheim

Jerry Jackson

Stephen Sondheim

Print-Quality Photo

The event is a highlight of the department's 2008-09 75th anniversary year celebration, which will culminate Saturday, May 2, in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center with the 75th Anniversary Gala "Launch" Party. The party will include a dinner; a performance by IU's Broadway Cabaret (directed by Emmy Award-winning faculty member George Pinney); a screening of the film Memory Lane by senior Graham Sheldon; "Dancing with Our Stars," an opportunity to dance with some of the department's top performers; a sing-along piano bar, and a stroll down memory lane that includes a Brown County Playhouse Sweet Shop Gallery, historical exhibits, guided tours, and a photo booth and alumni room.

"Learning from greats like Sondheim helps us train and develop our musical theater program and our students to prepare for the future. Adding Scott Simon helps broaden the appeal to Journalism and Telecommunication students and everyone on campus who listens to him on NPR. We are delighted to share these two outstanding talents with the IU and Bloomington communities," said Michaelsen.

About Stephen Sondheim

Sondheim has collaborated on more than a dozen landmark shows and written countless standard songs and is also considered the most influential force in bringing the Broadway musical into the modern age. His artistic journey began when Sondheim was still in his twenties and contributed the lyrics to two classic collaborations with the playwright Arthur Laurents and director-choreographer Jerome Robbins, West Side Story (1957; music by Leonard Bernstein) and Gypsy (1959; music by Jule Styne).

Both shows have been repeatedly revived on Broadway and throughout the world. Daring and unorthodox for their time, they now are universally seen as twin pinnacles of the post-war Broadway musical.

Sondheim's first produced Broadway show as both composer and lyricist, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), had an even longer Broadway run than its predecessors. With such collaborators as director Harold Prince, director-playwright James Lapine and playwrights John Weidman, Hugh Wheeler, Burt Shevelove and George Furth, Sondheim would go on to create a remarkable succession of groundbreaking musicals: Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1990) and Passion (1994). His most recent show, Bounce (2003), was produced in a revised version, titled Road Show, at the 2008 New York Shakespeare Festival.

About Scott Simon

Scott Simon

Will O'Leary

Scott Simon

Print-Quality Photo

NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon has reported from all 50 states and every continent. He has covered ten wars, hundreds of campaigns, sieges, famines, hurricanes, earthquakes, civil wars, scandals, state funerals and opening nights. He has interviewed and profiled some of the most interesting personalities of the times, from Mother Teresa, Ariel Sharon and Wyclef Jean to roving street kids in Rio and refugees in Kosovo, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting, including the Overseas Press Club, Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University, George Foster Peabody, Ohio State, Directors Guild, Major Armstrong, and Emmy awards. He received a special 1989 George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly essays, which were cited for their sensitivity and literary style.

Simon has hosted many public television specials, including "Voices of Vision," "Life on the Internet," "State of Mind," "American Pie," "Search for Common Ground," and specials on privacy in America and democracy in the Middle East. He narrated the documentary film "Lincoln of Illinois" for PBS and was blown up by Martians in the Grammy Award-nominated 50th anniversary remake of The War of the Worlds (co-starring Jason Robards).

Simon has written for The New York Times Book Review and Op-Ed pages, the Wall Street Journal opinion and book page, The Los Angeles Times, Friends Journal and Gourmet Magazine (his Gourmet article, "Conflict Cuisine," recently won the International Culinary Professionals Award). Simon's book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan was published in the spring of 2000. It topped the Los Angeles Times nonfiction bestseller list, and was cited as one of the best books of the year in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and several other publications. His second book, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, kicked off the prestigious Wiley Turning Points series in September of 2002, and was the Barnes and Noble Sports Book of the Year. It was reissued in 2007, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinsons' entry into the major leagues

Simon became a novelist in 2005. Pretty Birds, his novel about teenage girls during the siege of Sarajevo, was acclaimed as "the start of a brilliant new career," and is now in its' 13th printing. His most recent novel, a political comedy called Windy City, was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008.

Department of Theatre and Drama

For more information about the Department of Theatre and Drama, see Tickets for the Department of Theatre and Drama's 75th anniversary gala, including dinner, are $100. For show and cast party only, tickets are $50 for general public, $25 for IU students. Additionally, $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 "play bills" honoring the department's chairs will be available in the lobby to spend for beverages, theatre boutiques, games and tips. All proceeds from the event will help launch an endowment campaign. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Patricia Kennedy at 812-855-5568 or