At 96, a Broadway Legend Is Making a Model-New Begin of It

So it appears nearly Sisyphean that whereas a music assistant is busy digitizing Kander’s archive and getting ready the paper property for eventual donation to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the person himself is sitting close by at a keyboard, cranking out extra each day.

That’s not the appropriate phrase, although. Even when he had been in truth profoundly lazy, as Ebb insisted and Kander doesn’t deny, composing is hardly drudgery for him. It’s extra of a geological course of, water rising from an aquifer, determined to be tapped. If he doesn’t let the music out by way of his fingers — or block it by listening to any individual else’s — it would drown him.

Which suggests he’s all the time listening: Music performs in his head, he mentioned, “like a radio you possibly can’t flip off.” It started, he believes, some 35,000 John Kander Days in the past, when, as a child in Kansas Metropolis, Mo., he contracted tuberculosis. Remoted on a sleeping porch and in a position to sense his household solely after they approached the display screen door, he realized to affiliate the sound of footsteps coming towards him with the imminence of family members. “I believe I started to arrange sound in my head then, out of necessity.”

FOOTSTEPS GO BOTH WAYS although. If, as he mentioned, a “residue of loneliness” stays from that have, it’s a loneliness for which “essentially the most lucky antidote” has been companionship and collaboration. Although many individuals assumed that Kander and Ebb had been a pair — their 45-year partnership was extra intense and monogamous than many marriages — the boys weren’t socially shut. However he and Stephenson, a dancer in Kander and Ebb’s “The Act,” have been collectively since 1977, married since 2008. A few of Kander’s loveliest songs had been written not for any present however for him.

As for collaboration, it’s no accident that Kander surrounds himself with a rotating roster of acquainted names. “Subsequent to the best intercourse you possibly can think about, making artwork with your pals is nearly as good because it will get,” he mentioned. He’s labored with Stroman six occasions, Thompson eight occasions and Washington, a featured performer in “The Scottsboro Boys,” twice. Half the music workforce are previous Kander fingers too, making the March 14 sitzprobe — the primary rehearsal with the forged and the orchestra — a reunion and, because it occurred, a celebration. You haven’t actually heard “Completely happy Birthday” till a Broadway refrain of 37, accompanied by 19 crack musicians, sings it in a crowded, reverberant room.