"THE FUNNIEST MUSICAL EVER WRITTEN!": FIRST EDITION OF A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM—"THE FIRST BROADWAY SHOW FOR WHICH SONDHEIM WROTE BOTH THE WORDS AND MUSIC"—INSCRIBED BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM
SONDHEIM, Stephen. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. A Musical Comedy Based on the Plays of Plautus. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1963. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. $1300.
First edition of a bawdy Broadway romp through ancient Rome with music and lyrics by Sondheim, and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, an especially scarce copy inscribed on the title page by Sondheim, "To L— D— V— from Stephen Sondheim 2/18/99," with double-page frontispiece caricature by Al Hirschfeld and eight pages of photographic illustrations from the original Broadway run, a lovely copy.
Sondheim, who died in late 2021, "was the theater's most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century and the driving force behind some of Broadway's most beloved and celebrated shows… [his] music and lyrics raised and reset the artistic standard for the American stage musical" (New York Times). A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which premiered in 1962, "remains the funniest musical ever written" (Wall Street Journal). With its book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, it was "the first Broadway show for which Sondheim wrote both the words and music… [and] won a Tony Award for best musical… Sondheim's music was always recognizable as his own, and yet he was dazzlingly versatile. His melodies could be deceptively, disarmingly simple… or jaunty and whimsical, like Everybody Ought to Have a Maid, from Forum… Of the shows for which Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics, his first, Forum, had the longest Broadway run." Sondheim won Tony Award in 2008 for lifetime achievement and would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. "In 2010, in perhaps the ultimate show business accolade, a Broadway house on West 43rd Street, Henry Miller's Theater, was renamed in his honor" (New York Times). First edition, first printing: with no statement of edition or printing on the copyright page. Containing double-page line caricature of the cast by Al Hirschfeld and eight pages of black-and-white photographic illustrations from the original Broadway production.
Book fine; usual toning to spine of bright about-fine dust jacket.