This was something that was said to me the other night. I was having a discussion with someone about Sondheim and his best work. "My personal favorite is "Sunday in the Park with George" , I said. "That's good. But Stephen Sondheim's greatest musical was Sweet Charity." Pause. "I don't think he did that one. I think that was Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields", I coyly responded. "Oh no, that's a common misconception." Deciding to see how far I could go with this, I "corrected" myself. "Right, I got those mixed up. Sondheim did Seasaw." "Exactly." they replied. I just smiled and nodded my head. I often hear misconceptions like these when discussing theatre with various people. Some of them are forgivable, like mistaking which show won a Tony but some of them are so preposterous that it takes every fiber in my body not to whip out my phone to prove them wrong. But depending on who it is and where you are, this isn't the most tactful strategy. But in the spirit of jest, here are some whoppers I've heard over the years.
Bob Fosse Choreographed "Cabaret"
This was one I heard recently. Interestingly enough my wife, who is a dancer, has heard it before as well. The trouble is, I've heard it more than once. Which is a shame because other than On The Town, it's Ron Field's best work.
Jonathan Larson was gay and died from AIDS
This is another one I've heard more than once. As far as we know, Larson was not gay and did not die from AIDS. In fact tick...tick...BOOM! , the part of Susan, was based on his relationship with his girlfriend. I've also read that Maureen in RENT was also inspired by a former girlfriend. So while we don't know for sure, definitively saying that Larson was gay in a misconception. Also, as far as we know, Larson did not have AIDS. He died from an aortic dissection, which occurs when a tear in the inner wall of the aorta causes blood to flow between the layers of the wall of the aorta, forcing the layers apart. This was most likely caused by his under-diagnosed Marfan's syndrome. So once again, stating definitively that Larson had AIDS, which is why he wrote RENT is a gross misconception.
High Schools aren't allowed to do "Phantom of Opera"
I was speaking with a high school drama teacher about productions that he could do next year. They had a young woman who was one of the best sopranos I've heard in a while and I suggested he take a look at "Phantom of the Opera." "Oh if only, but high schools aren't allowed to do that." "No, they are, they made the rights available in 2010." I replied. "No, you're wrong, believe me." Well if that's the case, someone should have told Hamilton High School in Hamilton, MT that last weekend. Like I said earlier, it's totally forgivable if you have the wrong idea or wrong information. But don't be so adamant about it to the point where you won't listen to someone who had the right information. I've been guilty of misconceptions myself, but I always am grateful when someone corrects me....as long as they're right.