Sondheim: “I’m Not Pretentious”

But cha are, Blanche, ya are. When you name-check Mahler and Pinter in your lyrics, I think the tourist audience around Times Square might think you are a little bit over their heads. In this new interview, on the occasion of a revival of “Assassins” in London (read a review here), Sondheim says: “I’m a product of Broadway no matter how pretentious anybody thinks what I write is. I’m not writing for myself. I’m writing to entertain, to make people laugh and cry and think. I want as big an audience as possible.” As for the charge that “Assassins” glorifies horror, Sondheim replies: “Nobody at the end of the show should feel that we have been excusing or sentimentalizing these people. We’re examining the system that causes these horrors. The US Constitution guarantees the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t guarantee the happiness. That’s the difference. These are people who feel they’ve been cheated of their happiness, each one in a different way.” I’m not pretentious, either, but I am pedantic: it’s not the Constitution but the Declaration of Independence that mentions the pursuit of happiness.

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