Finishing the Hat

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This article is about the book. For the song, see Sunday in the Park with George.

For the Desperate Housewives episode, see Finishing the Hat (Desperate Housewives).

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954–1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes is a book by American musical theatre composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The book contains Sondheim's lyrics from his first professionally staged show, Saturday Night (1954) through West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Do I Hear a Waltz?, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, The Frogs, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and ending with Merrily We Roll Along (1981), stopping just short of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George (1984) which contains the song from which the title of the book is taken.

While the book is not an autobiography, and much of it deals with Sondheim's lyrical technique (such as the use of perfect rhyme, proper stressing of syllables, avoiding redundancy), the comments and anecdotes mentioned in the subtitle often deal with his relationships with his collaborators, including Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins, George Furth, James Lapine and Leonard Bernstein, and with events important to the history of American musical theatre.

Additionally Sondheim offers sidebar critiques of some of the most renowned American lyricists of the first half of the 20th century, including Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, and his own mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II. Sondheim only discusses the works and styles of lyricists and composers who have died, for he states that he does not want to personally hurt anyone or ruin their reputation.

The book's second volume, Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Wafflings, Diversions and Anecdotes covers the remainder of his theatrical works, as well as the various writing he has done for films, plays and further deleted works. [1]

It was published on October 29, 2010 by Alfred A. Knopf, and is 444 pages.

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