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BY MARK EDEN HOROWITZ

Children Will Listen


ondheim has collaborated on multiple shows with seven

S librettists — Arthur Laurents, Burt Shevelove, James


Goldman, George Furth, Hugh Wheeler, John Weidman and
James Lapine. Usually, Sondheim doesn’t begin writing lyrics or
composing music until there is at least a partial draft of a libret-
to, which he uses as a guide — not only for plot and substance,
but also for tone and language. Each collaborator seems to bring
out something distinctive in Sondheim — not only in the very
nature of the shows but also in subtle sensibilities. Furth tends
to stimulate Sondheim’s more humorous, brittle and contempo-
rary side. Weidman’s interest in history and sociology leads to a
more intellectual, removed and thoughtful Sondheim. The tradi-
tionally theatrical Laurents inspires subtext and color.
And then there’s James Lapine. He is unique; he is usually
both librettist and director. His shows have a more organic quali-
ty, going to less predictable places. Relationships seem more
nuanced, characters are less identifiable types. Lapine’s charac-
ters also tend to be more profoundly tied to their families —
spouses, parents and children — than characters in librettos by
other Sondheim collaborators. (While I don’t consider Lapine to
be particularly hopeful, it’s also worth noting that in all three of
his collaborations with Sondheim — the third being Passion —
characters return from the dead.)
This influence can be seen in collaborations other than those
with Sondheim. Consider what a vast difference there is between
William Finn’s In Trousers and the Lapine-directed sequel, March
of the Falsettos. When Lapine directed a revival of Sondheim and
Furth’s Merrily We Roll Along at the La Jolla Playhouse in 1985,
changes included the addition of a scene with the protagonist’s
son and the humanizing song “Growing Up.”
Sondheim and Lapine’s first collaboration, Sunday in the Park
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BIOGRAPHY OF A SONG: FROM PAGE 27 more” philosophy, the demands of this puzzle-
plot and the points to be made, resulted in a
with George, has two primary, linked themes labyrinthine show. Nonetheless, here was a
— creativity and connectedness. The song Sondheim musical with tunes that pleased
“Children and Art” is about both. In their next more than challenged, and lyrics with not just
show together, Into the Woods, connectedness wit but true comedy. It was a show suitable for
again is a major theme. Both shows also reveal the entire family, full of familiar stories (only
a penchant for puzzle-like plotting and demon- modestly distorted — even less to those more
strate an interest in dramatic structures. Both acquainted with the Grimm than the Perrault
shows have second acts that differ significantly or Disney versions). At 765 performances, it is
from their first acts. It’s difficult to imagine Sondheim’s second-longest running show
that Sondheim would have written a song like (Forum ran 964 in 1962-1964). It had London
“Children Will Listen” in a show with any productions in 1990 and 1998, and a Broadway
other of his frequent collaborators. revival in 2002. At that time Sondheim said it
was his most frequently performed show (for
BACKGROUND. Having enjoyed their first col- which he had written both words and music):
laboration on Sunday in 1984, in the summer “It’s one of those shows … that offers a good
of the same year, Sondheim and Lapine began part for everyone in it. All kinds of community
to discuss writing another show together. As theatres and kids’ theatres do it. There are no
reported in The New York Times, “Sondheim swear words.”
thought it might be fun to try something
based on a fairy tale or quest adventure. ‘My LYRICS. I chose to write about “Children Will
original instinct,’ he says, ‘was to tell one Listen” because I wanted a song from Into the
long, totally made-up story — to make up our Woods, and I was curious to know how
own characters, our own atmosphere, our own Sondheim had approached this kind of song —
myth.’” Lapine suggested combining several one not so much derived from character or
existing fairy tales, exploring ways in which plot, but something anthem-like that included
they might be woven into a common fabric. profound thoughts simply stated.
Before the end of 1984, Lapine had com- When I requested copies of Sondheim’s
pleted a draft of the first-act libretto. Various manuscripts for the song, I was warned that
readings were held at Playwrights Horizons, there was a lot of material. I was unprepared to
including a rehearsed version in June 1986 discover 201 pages! I had expected manage-
with a draft script for the entire show and a able source material for this fairly short and
partial score for the first act. In December straightforward song; I now faced a tangle, but
1986, a full production opened for a six-week for good reason. “Children Will Listen” was ini-
run at The Old Globe in San Diego. If memory tially written as a section of “Second
serves, this production was tantalizingly close Midnight” — an involved and long number
to the final show, although perhaps a tad too toward the end of the first act. At some point
clever for its own good. The Three Little Pigs after the San Diego production, “Second
had scamper-ons with their wolf (just as the Midnight” was cut, but the “Children Will
Princes are brothers, their lupine surrogates Listen” section was reclaimed, edited and
were, too — one bedeviling the pigs, the other, interpolated into the show’s “Finale.”
Little Red). The Baker’s Wife died by inadver- There are 103 pages of lyric notes, sketches
tently eating the apple intended for Snow and annotated typescripts. The largest section
White. The Witch, played by Ellen Foley, had of these is 71 pages foldered together under
the anachronistic persona of a punk rocker, the overarching title of “2nd Midnight”; of
sang “Boom Crunch” rather than “Last these, 38 pages are typescripts. Only the type-
Midnight,” and her maternal feelings for scripts are dated, and these range from
Rapunzel had uncomfortably incestuous over- 5/6/87 to 5/29/87, with an additional three
tones. A two-week workshop, again at Play- pages dated 8/15/87. There is no longer any
wrights Horizons, followed in the summer of obvious organization to all of these lyric
1987 (with Betty Buckley in the role of the sheets, but there are certain general types of
Witch). The primary purpose of the workshop headings that indicate groupings, e.g.:
was to try two different narrative techniques: “Parents,” “Children” or “Parents + Children.”
having the Narrator and the Mysterious Man Several pages are titled with character names
played by the same or different actors. When and focus on notes and lines specifically for
the roles were divided, the Mysterious Man was them: Rapunzel, the Baker and his Wife, the
played by the offbeat comedian Henry Morgan. Princes, Jack’s Mother and the Stepsisters.
Into the Woods opened on Broadway on These pages, in addition to lines through-
Nov. 5, 1987, to respectful if not stellar out the sketches, reveal fascinating insights
reviews. It’s that rare instance in which the into the thoughts and feelings of the charac-
whole was less than the sum of its parts. Each ters. One page for Jack’s Mother alone,
character and moment was wonderful; I would includes:
be hard-pressed to excise any of them. But for
Sondheim, who typically advocates a “less is Children should protect you/Not vice versa

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Children are a puzzle/Not worth solving


Every other child/Reflects his mother/Can’t I S-M, W: Other people’s children
have a child like any other/What did I do S-M: Are burdens Disgrace you
wrong? W: Defy you
J-M, S-M, Witch: Other people’s children
But the most thoughtful section for her is J-M: Are perfect
from a page headed “Parents + Children.” (It
also includes sections for other characters.): There are many ideas. For the Witch alone
he considered these options: “Other people’s
I want him to grow up, but I don’t, to children — are
leave but not/I thought I’d have a son who tempting,” or “
would take care of me. A husband. — irresistible,”
Mother’s work is never done. or “ — are per-
fectly delicious
Not everything is poignant. Some segments —”
are quite funny, such as Rapunzel’s: “What do Throughout the
you say when you/Look at your mother and/ sketches, char-
Think, ‘Did I come from that?’” or this acters repeat-
exchange: Witch: “You’re ashamed of me, edly ask some
aren’t you?” Rapunzel: “You’re the only person form of “Where
I know.” did I go
Notes indicate that several characters feel wrong?”
shame or embarrassment, not just Rapunzel Chillingly, the
being embarrassed by the Witch, or Jack’s Baker and his
Mother being ashamed of Jack. Cinderella is Wife ask, “What
keenly concerned that she is living up to her will we do
mother’s memory. Sondheim has this thought- wrong?”
ful synopsis for their troubled history: Another con-
stant refrain
C[inderella’s]-M[other] died, leaving her has virtually all
guilty w/ the admonition: Be good + make of the charac-
me proud of you. C[inderella] tries to be
ters exclaiming
at one point or
what C-M wants her to be, and becomes
another, “I
her own person, even if it falls short of C-
don’t under-
M’s expectations. (C + L[ittle]R[ed]RH share stand.” In fact,
this — point it up? as in last scene). in the fair copy
for “Second
Another note has Cinderella’s Mother say- Midnight,” the
ing, “Dying young, you can’t set an example, song’s subtitle
so you say it,” while Cinderella counters, “It’s is “I Don’t
what you do, not what you say, that counts.” Understand.”
Despite Cinderella always trying to be “good” In one sketch,
and “kind,” it’s apparent that her father, step- after several
mother and stepsisters are embarrassed by her. characters
A section for the stepsisters begins: incant, “I don’t
understand,”
Florinda, Lucinda: Other people’s chil- the Witch replies, “I do.”
dren… The previously quoted section for Jack’s
Lucinda: — Are embarrassing — Mother, with the line “Every other child
Florinda: — But useful – reflects his mother,” seems to have inspired
Cinderella’s Father: Other people’s chil- another lyric avenue with the word “reflect.”
dren/Don’t confuse you. Sondheim begins listing rhymes in the mar-
gins. Ultimately, these “ect” rhymes reach
That segment grew out of notes in which their apotheosis in:
Sondheim pairs viewpoints that are similar or
in opposition. Cinderella’s Father says, “I Parents: The more you protect them,/The
always wanted a boy”; the Witch says, “I always more they reject you.
wanted a girl.” These pairings coalesced into a Children: The more you reflect them,/The
section that could have been titled “Other more they respect you
People’s Children.” Sondheim’s sketches are Parents: But if you neglect them,/Or try to
full of wonderful exchanges for this section, perfect them/They just disconnect you.
only some of which made it into “Second
Midnight.” One sketch had this exchange:
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BIOGRAPHY OF A SONG: FROM PAGE 29 August and October 1987. One page is an out-
line of sorts. My favorite bit: “B[aker’s] W[ife]
Children: But who else can direct you? returns in tree — B[aker] sings w/her? (It’s
what allows him to come back to life).” Of the
In one typescript, Sondheim penciled in other changes considered by Sondheim, the
these alternatives for the third line: “If you cor- most interesting reflect on a garden. I assumed
rect them/Or over direct them/It doesn’t this had been inspired by “Make Our Garden
affect them.” Grow” from Candide, but Sondheim says this
The sections of “Second Midnight” that end was not the case. He viewed the garden as an
up being rejoined to “Children Will Listen” in important aspect of the show and believes the
the Streisand recording (“… How do you say it reason he didn’t end up including it was
will all be all right,/When you know that it because Lapine was always looking for songs to
mightn’t be true? …”) appear to have been make their point as quickly as possible and
born in these notes on a page titled “Parents”: move on. Some of the garden-related lines for
the Witch included:
F[airy] T[ales] are examples: they are our
father + mothers…How much [What] Careful the seeds you plant/Gardens need
(truth) do you tell a child? They must be tending/Planted the proper way/Gardens
encouraged, not disillusioned…Dying may glisten
young…the only legacy you leave is instruc- Careful with what you plant/Gardens may
tion [not example] bloom/And grow.
Teach them about the world/How it’s a gar-
Among the early notes that will bear the den
most fruit in “Children Will Listen” are: Tamper with what is true,/The children will
turn./The garden will burn,
They may not seem to,/But they watch/And
they listen/And they learn As I mentioned previously, I was curious
Reflections (they are our, we are their) about how Sondheim wrote about simple but
Careful/Children are listening profound ideas. The not-so-surprising answer:
He forces himself to dig into an issue from as
There are also indications that a very differ- many points of view as he can. He then tries to
ent song could have come from these musings. capture as clearly as possible what he thinks
“Set your example by deed/Not by word” might and what his characters think before examining
easily have evolved to “Children Are Watching.” where there are contradictions and tensions.
Particularly interesting is the fact that, in Here are some additional lines and phrases
the “Second Midnight” version of “Children that continue to haunt me:
Will Listen,” the song is not sung by the Witch.
It begins with Cinderella’s Mother singing, The decisions you make are based on what
“Careful with what you say/Children will lis- you’re told to believe.
ten.” This makes perfect sense, as we know Children reflect who you are, how you feel,
how her final admonitions haunted Cinderella. what you want.
Jack’s Mother then sings, “Children may not You never realize fully the consequences of
obey,/But children will listen.” What seem like
your actions.
universal lines when sung by the Witch in the
If you don’t promise that they will be all
final version of the song actually began as char-
right (a la F Tales), you deprive your child of
acter lines. The Baker and the Baker’s Wife
(the two characters who yearn to be parents) hope. Be positive w/o being unrealistic.
sing, “How do you say to your child in the Nothing is always (good or bad) — Things
night,/Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s can turn out all right. But part of the
all white?” When the final refrain occurs, it is world’s passive attitude is that someone
sung by all of the parents. else will do it — do it yourself — things
Ironically, “Second Midnight,” conceived as don’t turn out right by themselves
a mosaic for all of the characters, is a more None of them [the children] know their
spot-on reflection of the show’s theme of con- father, including C[inderella] (“He’s there,
nectedness, but it is somehow less powerful
and I don’t know him).
and effective than the simpler and more gener-
How far should you go to get your wish?
al “Children Will Listen” in the show’s
The thing you’re taught vs. the things you
“Finale.”
The rest of the lyric sketches are divided learn (know now)
into various revisions for “Second Midnight,” Fairy tales are examples — they are our
“Finale Act II” and mostly edited copies of ear- fathers + mothers
lier transcripts used to fashion the extended
version of “Children Will Listen” for Streisand. MUSIC. The 98 pages of music manuscripts are
The revisions for “Finale Act II” date between divided as follows:

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• 11 pages of sketches whose folder cover is song gallops to a sudden conclusion. Despite
titled “2nd Midnight (Parents + Children)” being full of wonderful bits, “Second Midnight”
• A fair copy of “Second Midnight – I Don’t is unwieldy. According to Sondheim, the song
Understand” is 35 pages long, running 193 was performed in San Diego, but Lapine and he
measures (and on recording runs close to six agreed that the show was being slowed by this
minutes) seven-minute number when what they (and,
• 17 pages of revisions — two pages of they sensed, the audience) wanted was for the
sketches and 15 of alternates action to continue.
• 22 pages for “Finale Act II,” including two There’s something distinctive about the
versions of fair copies for the “Children Will final version of “Children Will Listen.” Not that
Listen” portion (one, dated 8/10/87, includes it sounds like
a variant of the “garden” version of the lyric; anyone else, but
the other is dated 10/12/87 and is almost I’m not sure I
exactly the final version — except it does not would readily
include the key change midway through). identify it as
• Six pages of revisions for “Finale Act II,” being by
but virtually none of this reflects on the Sondheim.
“Children Will Listen” part. Although the
The sketches for “Second Midnight” contain melody uses a
comparatively little for “Children Will Listen.” few basic
One page includes two four-measure sketches motives, the
with the beginning of the lyric between them. way they’re put
Both are recognizable as being similar to the together feels
final version, but nothing is exact. Neither free and natu-
includes triplets, and with a tighter rhythm, ral. Much of the
the tunes seem constrained, without flow. On song is divided
the following page, the melody for the opening into two-meas-
four measures is exact. However, here it’s in ure phrases that
two staves, and the lower stave indicates the have subtly dif-
children are to sing the melodic phrase that ferent rhythms.
sets “What do you say to your child …” — the “Careful the
two tunes alternating their entrances so that things you say”
one group sings while the other holds a note. and “Children
This is the only place this idea is pursued. will listen” have
The fair copy for “Second Midnight” is fasci- rhythmic pro-
nating. It’s a very long, complex number, over- files whose dif-
flowing with both melodic and lyric ideas. The ferences can be
“I Don’t Understand” portions are melodically measured in a
closely related to “No One Is Alone.” The hairsbreadth.
“Children Will Listen” portions occur twice. The latter opens
The first half of “Children Will Listen” has its with a triplet,
entrance at measure 50. As mentioned previ- the former with
ously, Cinderella’s Mother begins the song, an eighth note,
briefly interrupted by Little Red chanting quarter note,
“Mother said, straight ahead …” Then Jack’s eighth note.
Mother takes over with “Children may not obey One begins its
…”, and the two mothers join together for the final sustained
last five measures. The lyrics are there, the syllable on the
melody is there, the basic harmonic idea is fourth beat, the other on the “and” of four.
there, but the accompaniment is vastly differ- This is a stretch, but it’s almost as if the phras-
ent. It starts with flowing quarter-note thirds. es were siblings, or parent and child — so
When Jack’s Mother begins, the chords thick- closely related, yet each claiming their individ-
en, and they are played staccato; they begin to uality.
work in counterpoint, and jarring chromati- The harmonies underneath tend to alternate
cisms enter the fray. At the final duet, all the (also in two-measure phrases) between the
undergrowth clears away, and the song has only tonic and the subdominant — both major har-
the simplest sustained chords underneath. monies of virtually equal weight — different
“Second Midnight” continues in various sec- but the same. Colors gradually sneak into the
tions, then at measure 161 the second half of accompaniment, but if anything they point up
“Children Will Listen” takes center stage, sung this equality: a flatted seventh enters at “…
by all the Parents. Finally, here is the song as see. And …”, but it happens when the subdom-
we know it, accompaniment included. All is inant chord is sounding, and that note would
well until the phrase “If just to be free —.” actually define the key signature were the sub-
“Children Will Listen” never completes; every- dominant to become the tonic. A few measures
one segues into yet another section, and the CONTINUES ON PAGE 32

The Sondheim Review 31


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BIOGRAPHY OF A SONG: FROM PAGE 31 note theme associated with the five magic
beans is heard in many incarnations, rhythms
later, at “which way to turn,” just as the lyric is and harmonic settings throughout the score. It
confused and lost, the harmony isn’t sure evolves from dissonant and sinister, when first
whether it’s the tonic in suspension or a minor introduced during the Witch’s entrance, and
version of the subdominant in second inver- finally resolves peacefully (after the beanstalk
sion. it generated has been cut down) during “No
The song itself is in two sections. Midway One Is Alone” (where it is also heard in an
through there is a key change up a whole step inversion in the accompaniment). And the vast
(at “Careful the wish you make”) and, at the majority of the songs in the show begin with
same time, the Witch begins to be joined by the two-note interval of a major second. This is
the rest of the Company. This serves to redi- the “I wish” theme most closely associated
rect the song toward the audience, and it adds with Cinderella. But wishing is one of the
intensity and urgency. show’s major themes, so most of the characters
There are a few particular musical aspects begin their musical journeys with that shared
of the song worthy of comment. The tune is impulse.
deceptive. It is almost entirely diatonic, with In the case of “Children Will Listen,”
only two insignificant accidentals. Yet there is Sondheim reverse-engineered it into the score
great dramatic power in the music that is so that it is first heard as a verse to the Witch’s
achieved in the tension between the melody “Stay With Me,” beginning with the lines:
and harmony. In particular, there are two key “What did I clearly say?/Children must listen
goose-bump-inducing moments: at “For which …” The melodic shape is almost identical, but
way to turn,/To learn what to be,” and at not exact — here the “listen” falls a minor
“What you can see/And turn against you.” sixth, whereas in “Children Will Listen,” it
This, in particular, is a perfect musical repre- drops a fifth. The harmony and accompaniment
sentation of the lyric. The bass note stays the are also markedly different — harsh, staccato
same in each half of the phrase, while the and dissonant in “Stay With Me.” In a transi-
melody is raised a whole step in the second tion between the two versions, the song is
half, landing on the ninth of the chord rather heard again as part of the “Witch’s Lament” in
than the tonic. The melody is “turning against” Act II: “This is the world I meant/Couldn’t you
the parental root of the harmony. Interestingly, listen…”
the opposite happens at “Wishes come true,/
Not free” where the melody lands on the same RECORDINGS: As of this writing, there are some
note, but the underlying harmony shifts away 30 commercial recordings of “Children Will
in tension. Listen.” Three are cast recordings; of these,
Also, the layers of accompaniment textures the original, featuring Bernadette Peters as the
are unusually thick for Sondheim. There is the Witch, is by far the best. Peters is tender and
bass harmony; there is the aforementioned affecting, and when the company joins in it
eighth-note accompaniment figuration in the feels natural and appropriate. The usually won-
tenor and alto range; there is the melody itself, derful Julia McKenzie is disappointing on the
which is also doubled in the soprano with London cast recording; she performs it too
chord clusters (which at key moments begin to much as the operatic soprano, and her
divide contrapuntally); and under “see. And pompous manner comes across as too knowing.
learn” and “true. Not free” there is yet another The Broadway revival, featuring Vanessa
tension-inducing counter-melody. There are a Williams, is simply too rushed to make an
lot of musical ideas to absorb. impression.
Finally, Into the Woods is one of Sondheim’s, Betty Buckley, who played the Witch in one
for lack of a better phrase, more symphonic of the show’s workshops, subsequently got to
scores. With Sweeney, Merrily, Sunday, Woods perform the song as part of the Sondheim cele-
and Passion, Sondheim began fashioning bration at Carnegie Hall. It’s preceded by the
scores that use melodic themes, motives and Boys Choir of Harlem singing “Our Time,”
unique harmonic languages. He manipulates which then join Buckley for the second half of
this base material through variation, extension “Children Will Listen,” both as accompaniment
and invention, so that — even in a show like and counterpoint. Buckley sings here with
Woods that includes many short ditties, some enormous intensity and passion. Her perform-
of which don’t even resolve — there is a sense ance, coupled with the young people, adds
of cohesion. Though still sporting variety, these weight and significance to the song. When
scores are constructed with a fascinating blend Buckley recorded the song later (on an album
of freedom and rigor — the ability to choose titled Children Will Listen), she was in wonder-
and adapt from your various building blocks so ful voice. However, with a new arrangement,
you have the freedom to set lyrics in any way the song loses its musical subtleties, becoming
that makes emotional and dramatic sense, but monotonous, merely pretty, verging on the silly.
still have the music be of a piece. There is a third recording that includes
In Into the Woods certain themes even devel- Buckley, but here she sings “Our Children”
op to make larger points. For instance, the five- from Ragtime, in a medley with Johnny Mathis

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singing “Children Will Listen.” Mathis is sur- Performances. It’s an excellent document of
prisingly good, showing virtually none of the the show, featuring most of the original cast.
affectations I feared and lending the song a Surprisingly, it is a different version of the song
tone of wisdom and gravitas. than the one on the original cast recording and
In 1993, Barbra Streisand recorded the song as published in the score. It’s not clear when or
on her Back to Broadway album — having first why the change was made. Here it includes my
convinced Sondheim to restore some of the least favorite line, “Guide them but step
previously cut material to provide a fuller, more away,/Children will glisten.” While the
satisfying song outside the context of the show. Bernadette Peters in Concert DVD (a different
This added material became a verse and bridge, though very similar recording of her show than
and the song proper was extended with a new that heard on Sondheim, Etc., Etc.) misses the
ending. Streisand’s performance is rapturous, song’s theatrical context, the song gets a
intense and knowing. My one quibble is her fuller, more sat-
occasional mordents unnecessarily added to isfying presen-
decorate certain notes. This arrangement is tation and a
orchestrated and conducted by Jonathan real ending,
Tunick, making it as close as possible to a rather than
definitive recording of this version. Most segueing into
recordings after Streisand’s also include the the Into the
additional sections. (In a review of the album Woods finale.
in The New York Times, Stephen Holden some- And Peters is
what cattily wrote: “The specially reconstructed quite rapturous
‘Children Will Listen,’ with which Ms. Streisand to watch. The
serenaded President Clinton at his inaugura- DVD of
tion festivities, includes new explanatory verses Sondheim: A
that augment the song’s gentle admonition to Celebration at
recognize the ways children learn from their Carnegie Hall
parents. The additions have altered the song’s includes the
tone from one of sorrowful reflection into a radiant per-
more didactic statement that Ms. Streisand formance by
builds into a towering harangue.”) Betty Buckley,
Of the other recordings, five seem particu- backed by the
larly worthy of comment. There are lovely ren- Boys Choir of
ditions by Ruthie Henshall on The Stephen Harlem. The
Sondheim Album and by Petula Clark on her camera panning
album Here For You. The latter is spare, gentle across those
and thoughtful, and there is something in the faces-of-the-
accompaniment that lends it the sense of an future adds
Irish air. (Which reminds me, the song is urgency to the
included in the Into the Woods Suite on Don song’s message.
Sebesky’s Symphonic Sondheim. This suite is It’s shocking
better than I had remembered; here the title to realize that
tune is featured by a whistler, also adding an “Children Will
Irish lilt to the piece.) Mandy Patinkin includes Listen” was not
the song as a medley beginning with “You’ve always part of Into the Woods’ “Finale,” as it
Got to Be Carefully Taught” on his Oscar and provides the show with its moral — something
Steve album. It’s an intelligent pairing, with all fairy tales need. Most of Sondheim’s songs
the first song sung with great ferocity and do what most great art does: capture thoughts
anger, followed by a comparatively gentle and and emotions we thought were unique, but dis-
parental “Children Will Listen.” There are brief cover are universal. And in a few cases — such
moments when Patinkin succumbs to his pen- as “Move On” and “Children Will Listen” —
chant for hyper-intensity, but for the most part Sondheim achieves something rarer; he creates
it’s one of his more moderated performances. a song that is instructive. “Children Will
This brings us to a singer who was previous- Listen” has the power to make those who hear
ly unknown to me, Bill McKinley. He sings it on it better parents and better people. |TSR|
his album Everything Possible, where it is a
medley with that title tune. What’s special MARK EDEN HOROWITZ is a senior music special-
about this recording is that it is sung sadly and ist at the Library of Congress. This column reflects
wistfully, and it is clear that it is from the point his personal, not professional, observations.
of view of the now grown-up child who was hurt Horowitz is the author of Sondheim on Music and
by the things he listened to.
has taught courses at Georgetown University
Of the three performances available on
about the history of musical theatre and specifi-
DVD, two feature Bernadette Peters. Most valu-
able is the one from the complete filming of cally about Sondheim. “Biography of a Song” has
the show, first broadcast on PBS’s Great been a regular feature of TSR.

The Sondheim Review 33