Jun 17, 2021 - Sale 2573

Sale 2573 - Lot 131

Price Realized: $ 2,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED: "WE'RE THE HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN" SONDHEIM, STEPHEN. Typed Letter Signed, "Steve," to writer Leonard Gershe, giving travel plans with Leonard Bernstein and his wife, suggesting that the title "ex-queen of television" would suit Bernstein or his wife equally well, inquiring at which London hotel ought he to stay, hoping to meet him during the visit, alternatingly gloating and complaining about the production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, discussing progress on "The Natives are Restless" [Anyone Can Whistle] and his ultimately unproduced musical The World of Jules Feiffer, and closing with a teasing bit of gossip about the "Duchess of Walden" [fictional character or codename?]. 1 1/4 pages, 4to, written on two sheets, onionskin paper; horizontal folds. With the original envelope. [New York], 14 July 1962

Additional Details

". . . I hate writing letters! (Actually, I rather like it when I have a lot of bitchy gossip to repeat, but it's summertime and the livin' is easy, meaning nobody's doing it with nobody).
". . . Leaving for Madrid August 5th (why Madrid? I'm glad you asked--to meet Leonard Bernstein, the well-known Jewish conductor and his beautiful wife the former Felicia Montealegre, ex-queen of television--or is that Leonard's title?--at any rate, they're celebrities), thence to Paris with Felicia (and maybe Leonard . . . ). . . .
"How's the play going? Better than 'Forum', I trust. We're a big hit, which is nothing to be sneered at I suppose, but it was the bitterest experience I've had yet. The show, under George Abbott's astute bungling, was a disaster until the last week in Washington, when Jerry Robbins came down to save it. Save it he did, by giving it three or four moments of style and an opening number (which I wrote the last weekend before we came into New York) which, contrary to Abbott's understanding, explained clearly to the audience what the show was about. I don't understand how that man got where he has . . . the enormity of his ineptness is unbelievable. He's totally humorless (the jokes literally had to be explained to him) and without any visible talent for staging or pace . . . and of course the critics gave him all the credit for the show. . . . I got really blasted. But that's to be expected--it's essentially a musician's score (I got wonderfully gratifying letters from [Frank] Loesser, [Harold] Arlen, Hugh Martin, etc.) . . . . However, these sour grapes are unseemly--the audiences love the show and at the moment we're the hottest ticket in town. Zero [Mostel] is still wrong for the show, but the critics and public eat him up (a full meal). Davy Burns is marvelous, as is Jack Gilford. And so am I.
". . . As far as raunchy gossip goes, . . . I can leave you with this question: why is the Duchess of Walden going to Portugal for a month alone when she and the Duke only recently returned from Europe? Answer next week."
With--Stephen Sondheim. Photograph Signed, half-length portrait showing him in a red sweater while reading. Signed diagonally in the image, middle left. 10x8 inches. Nd.