Monday, October 24, 2011

My Newfound Obsession with Stephen Sondheim’s "Losing My Mind"

Meet Sally and Phyllis. They are roommates and Follies showgirls. Now meet best friends Buddy and Ben. Sally is in love with Ben but he snubs her and marries Phyllis. Sally settles for Buddy. Fast forward some 30 years at the reunion at the soon to be torn down Weismann Theater. Sally, Phyllis, Buddy and Ben are miserable in their marriages. Not surprising, Sally is still in love Ben. Ben and Sally have a tender moment and she is so ready to leave Buddy and run off with Ben. They are then transported to Loveland – some sort of souped up Follies dream show where Sally, Phyllis, Buddy and Ben all perform wonderful Stephen Sondheim songs. However, the one song that I cannot get out of my head these days is Losing My Mind where Sally sings of her obsession with Ben morning, afternoon and through sleepless nights. 

She sings:  

You said you loved me
Or were you just being kind
Or am I losing my mind

Most recently I saw Losing My Mind performed on the New York City stage by Barbara Cook in Sondheim on Sondheim, Bernadette Peters in FOLLIES (currently in revival on Broadway) and Karen Akers in her Live, Laugh Love – Akers Sings Sondheim currently at the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel. If you youtube the song, you will find many many many performances of the torch tune. However, while I had issues with FOLLIES (check out my thoughts here), Bernadette Peters' rendition of Losing My Mind now resonates most with me. Why? Hadley Freeman sums it up best in her review  in The Guardian
When she sings Losing My Mind, she sings with biting anger, as opposed to the usual blind adoration. She is furious – maybe at Ben, maybe at herself – that she has wasted the past 30 years obsessed with a man who has never loved her and never will.
The new Broadway cast FOLLIES CD comes out in late November. When it does, Ms. Peters' rendition will most definitely be added to My Broadway Playlist.

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