Ebook excerpt: “Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers”

Mary Rodgers (1931-2014), the daughter of Richard Rodgers, was herself an achieved composer and writer who was surrounded by a number of the most notable personalities of American musical theater.

In “Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), written with New York Instances theater critic Jesse Inexperienced, she tells a narrative, each painful and joyful, that’s by no means something however candid, forgiving and witty.

Learn an excerpt under, during which Mary describes her first encounter together with her lifelong pal, Stephen Sondheim.


Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Steve and I performed a sport the primary time we met. This was at Highland Farm, Oscar Hammerstein’s house in Bucks County, in the summertime of 1944. Steve was one of many semi-orphans and unhappy strays with rotten dad and mom whom Ockie and his spouse Dorothy have been all the time quasi-adopting, together with the fey and interesting Shawen Lynch and the mysterious, haughty Margot de Vaulchier, who was both a royal descendant of some unidentified mini-kingdom like Liechtenstein, or perhaps an escapee from Staten Island – who knew?

I assume I had include my dad and mom; perhaps Daddy and Ockie have been engaged on Carousel, which opened on Broadway the following spring. Anyway, there we have been: a thirteen-year-old woman, fats and ungainly, as my father stored telling me, and a fourteen-year-old boy genius with a loopy narcissist divorcée of a mom who’d put him in army faculty – which he beloved. 

With nothing in widespread besides R (me) and H (him), what do you do? You play chess. Three video games. He beat me fiendishly, took no time in any respect. As soon as we ran via that, we went to the piano, the place he performed both Rhapsody in Blue or An American in Paris. I did not know these Gershwin issues, oddly sufficient. Rising up, I solely went to Daddy’s musicals; at house, he by no means performed Gershwin information. He did not play information a lot usually, however in particular he did not play Gershwin, the one composer he may need envied – properly, perhaps not the mind tumor half. Or perhaps even that.

I used to be dazzled by Steve, fully shocked. I knew straight away he was good; he simply reeked of expertise. Which, not illogically, was all the time the largest turn-on for me. I married two tall, blue-eyed males, however the ones I had essentially the most enjoyable with have been darkish. And, boy, was Steve darkish. He wasn’t obnoxious, however impatient, a bit snappish. Nice, however not boy-girl nice. I used to be only a physique there. I do not assume he thought I used to be as brilliant as he was, and he was proper. He knew I wasn’t as much as his requirements. However no person was. Later, we did develop into nearly equals, besides within the mind division. However at that second I assumed I might by no means be as infatuated with anybody once more. Which turned out to be true.

From “Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers” by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Inexperienced, revealed by Farrar Straus Giroux. © 2022 by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Inexperienced. Reprinted with permission.

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