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Lord Knows, At Least I Was There: Working with Stephen Sondheim

Lord Knows, At Least I Was There: Working with Stephen Sondheim - Paul Ford

Lord Knows, At Least I Was There: Working with Stephen Sondheim


When the Atlanta-born Paul Ford first fell in love with the American musical theatre at the age of five, after seeing the movie version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, he never imagined that his future skills as a "piano thumper" would lead him to a career on Broadway playing rehearsals or in the "pit" for such classic Stephen Sondheim musicals as Sunday in the Park with George, Follies in Concert, Into the Woods, Assassins (both off-Broadway and the Broadway revival), Passion, the 2005 production of Pacific Overtures, Wiseguys, Stephen Sondheim at Carnegie Hall, and numerous concerts, birthday tributes, and television spectaculars. In two of his Tony award acceptance speeches, Sondheim publicly declared Paul Ford the "indefatigable master of the musical theatre" and "the world's most tireless rehearsal pianist and a walking memory bank of every song that has ever been written for any musical on any continent."


For more than 25 years, Paul Ford was also Mandy Patinkin's exclusive accompanist and musical collaborator on a series of recordings and live concerts that took the duo from Broadway to London to Australia and beyond. Patinkin offers a heartfelt tribute to his former associate in the book's Foreword.


Now retired, the candid (and admittedly opinionated) author looks back on the performances and personalities that defined the American musical theatre in the waning years of the Twentieth Century. Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, Elaine Stritch, Victor Garber, Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Stockard Channing, Donna McKechnie, Lauren Bacall, Chita Rivera, Liza Minnelli, Martin Charnin, Liv Ullman, Teresa Stratas, Charles Strouse, Harve Presnell, Nancy Walker, James Lapine, Madonna, Mario Cantone, Warren Beatty, Julie Harris, Michael Cerveris, Debra Monk, Leonard Bernstein and, of course, Stephen Sondheim, are just a few of the legendary Broadway and Hollywood performers and creators who are lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) recalled in Paul Ford's honest and vivid account of his life and work both on and off-Broadway. He also provides a portrait of his conflicted childhood in Atlanta, Georgia as a "sissy piano player," followed by a self-destructive period of alcoholism. Miraculously, a haunting encounter in a Hell's Kitchen saloon in May of 1995 with the leading lady of one of his favorite childhood movies, gave Ford the incentive to clean up his life.

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When the Atlanta-born Paul Ford first fell in love with the American musical theatre at the age of five, after seeing the movie version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, he never imagined that his future skills as a "piano thumper" would lead him to a career on Broadway playing rehearsals or in the "pit" for such classic Stephen Sondheim musicals as Sunday in the Park with George, Follies in Concert, Into the Woods, Assassins (both off-Broadway and the Broadway revival), Passion, the 2005 production of Pacific Overtures, Wiseguys, Stephen Sondheim at Carnegie Hall, and numerous concerts, birthday tributes, and television spectaculars. In two of his Tony award acceptance speeches, Sondheim publicly declared Paul Ford the "indefatigable master of the musical theatre" and "the world's most tireless rehearsal pianist and a walking memory bank of every song that has ever been written for any musical on any continent."


For more than 25 years, Paul Ford was also Mandy Patinkin's exclusive accompanist and musical collaborator on a series of recordings and live concerts that took the duo from Broadway to London to Australia and beyond. Patinkin offers a heartfelt tribute to his former associate in the book's Foreword.


Now retired, the candid (and admittedly opinionated) author looks back on the performances and personalities that defined the American musical theatre in the waning years of the Twentieth Century. Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, Elaine Stritch, Victor Garber, Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Stockard Channing, Donna McKechnie, Lauren Bacall, Chita Rivera, Liza Minnelli, Martin Charnin, Liv Ullman, Teresa Stratas, Charles Strouse, Harve Presnell, Nancy Walker, James Lapine, Madonna, Mario Cantone, Warren Beatty, Julie Harris, Michael Cerveris, Debra Monk, Leonard Bernstein and, of course, Stephen Sondheim, are just a few of the legendary Broadway and Hollywood performers and creators who are lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) recalled in Paul Ford's honest and vivid account of his life and work both on and off-Broadway. He also provides a portrait of his conflicted childhood in Atlanta, Georgia as a "sissy piano player," followed by a self-destructive period of alcoholism. Miraculously, a haunting encounter in a Hell's Kitchen saloon in May of 1995 with the leading lady of one of his favorite childhood movies, gave Ford the incentive to clean up his life.

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