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(Credit: Gotfryd, Bernard)

Film

Stephen Sondheim's love for 'Team America: World Police'

@Russellisation

After tragically passing away in November 2021, tributes have been flooding in from across the world of TV, film and theatre to honour the late Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. A legendary composer of the stage, Sondheim was known for creating the music for the likes of plays such as West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along and Into the Woods

One of these many tributes from across the industry came from South Park and The Book of Mormon creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker who revealed a fascinating letter penned to them by Sondheim himself. Written back in 2005, the letter details the composers love for their surreal high-budget comedy, Team America: World Police, a film that sees an entire cast of puppets save the world from a terrorist threat. 

Clearly a man of quality taste, the letter, released on The Book of Mormon Twitter account, read: “I saw Team America and voted for it as the best movie of the year (a fat lot of good it did you)”. Continuing, the letter stated, “I gather from friends to whom I’ve burbled on about it that it was treated rottenly by the critics and that you are much discouraged. I can’t blame you, but then again this is the time of discouragement. In any event, congratulations”. 

Despite being recognised as one of the finest modern cinematic comedies, Team America: World Police saw largely unfavourable reviews upon its release in 2005, missing out on plaudits from all the popular awards shows. Ending his letter, however, Sondheim offered the directorial duo a unique opportunity, saying, “Would you ever be interested in writing a stage musical with an old traditionalist, namely me?”.

Unfortunately, this collaboration never materialised, though both Trey Parker and Matt Stone did honour Sondheim in season 15 of South Park in the episode Broadway Bro Down.