Sondheim and Prince had determined that they wanted to go back again in time, to relive their dreams and possibilities as young people, obviously, without saying it, betrayed by their own Broadway successes. The utterly dreaming young cast members—every one of them reminding me, so painfully, of my own total commitment to theater from an outsider’s perspective (they, as I have done with dozens of other composers years before, had brought all of Sondheim’s records and memorized them, in whatever American back town in which they existed)—and their excitement in even having been chosen to be part of this musical experiment is, even today, startlingly palpable. All true believers, and buoyed by their amazing commitment, so too where the musical’s creators. How could anyone imagine, particularly given the remarkable songs the great composer had created, that they wouldn’t naturally be applauded and successful?
Perhaps giving the not so high quality of so many of the musicals since, “crushing and beautifuly” songs should have been enough.