Two literary proverbs, adapted for musical theatre, are mottos of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman: “Musical comedies aren’t written, they’re re-written,” and “Musicals are never finished, they are abandoned.” These certainly apply to the long and winding journey that has led to the aptly-named ROAD SHOW. Sondheim has been quoted in interviews that the idea for this musical first came to him in 1953 but that he never pursued it until 1996. From there a series of readings, rewrites, a workshop, a long delay, more rewrites, more readings, and productions which played Chicago and Washington D.C. preceded the New York premiere in October 2008. At last this was the final form of the show that began as WISE GUYS, then morphed into GOLD, then BOUNCE and finally ROAD SHOW. ROAD SHOW, from the Sondheim/Weidman team that brought us PACIFIC OVERTURES and ASSASSINS, tells the tale of American dreamers who scramble for success, identity and love in the early 20th century.
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About the Show
ROAD SHOW is a musical comedy featuring complex melodic lines typical of many of Sondheim’s musicals. Showcased in this musical are two strong male leads, Wilson and Addison Mizner, supported by a cast of 15 people. This period piece spans through several decades from the 1890s through the 1920s and provides your designers a large span of time periods to design for. Take a look at this video that goes behind the scenes of the Broadway musical, ROAD SHOW for a better feel of the production:
John Weidman’s American Dream
A recurring theme in John Weidman’s scripts revolves around the pursuit of the American Dream. The American Dream is the idea that every American has the opportunity to achieve his or her aspirations. The Declaration of Independence references “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” – inalienable rights to which all Americans are entitled. This sense of entitlement can lead to an individual’s disillusionment, when and if their dreams do not come true:
“What is Life, my friends? I say it is a journey. A road down which we travel, ever seeking, never satisfied. An endless quest for something different, something better. Onward we go, restlessly reinventing ourselves. Searching for something that already lies before us. For in America, the journey is the destination.”
Read, “The Road Ahead: Pacific Overtures, Assassins, Road Show and the American Dream” from The Sondheim Review
Our friends at The Sondheim Review (http://www.sondheimreview.com) kindly gave us permission to share an article written by Richard Patterson (copyright 2009) examining the uniquely American political themes of these Sondheim / Weidman shows: