A treasure trove of musical theatre memorabilia from the work of one the most famous composers of recent times is to feature at Kingston University. Capturing highlights of the career of Stephen Sondheim, the extensive collection is made up of a raft of theatre ephemera from some of the most popular productions to grace the West End and Broadway during the past five decades. It includes vintage programmes, flyers, posters and reviews of such stage hits as West Side Story, Company, Follies and Sweeney Todd.
Amongst the most striking items are the oversized posters from some of the American composer’s most famous shows. Documenting the changing style of theatre design over the years, the colourful signs offer a whistle-stop tour through the back catalogue of one of theatreland’s most successful sons.
One of the oldest is a billboard for the 1958 London production of West Side Story, for which Sondheim wrote the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s score. The show gave Sondheim, who was mentored by musical theatre great Oscar Hammerstein II, his first real taste of success.
The archive, which will be housed and managed by Kingston University’s Archives and Special Collections includes more than thirty boxes and albums of material from twenty-eight shows, as well as sound and video recordings and a small library of books. It will grow as the Society continues to collect material relating to Sondheim and his work.
There is more information available on the Kingston University Archive website.