An incredible Sondheim score, the first time that the world really got a glimpse of the genius that was to come. The cast is unmatched — to the point where these roles are very nearly impossible to cast now. (Modern concert stagings notwithstanding...) Angela Lansbury gets a wicked Kay Thompson send-up with "Me and My Town," all dripping insincerity about the fate of her poor "peasants" with four back-up boys singing nonsense scat. Then she gets the parade anthem to end all parade anthems: "A Parade in Town" is almost completely the opposite of "A Parade in Town." Harry Guardino brings a relaxed masculinity to the role that has never been touched, in my most humble of opinions. And there's so much wonderful lunacy with the "Cookie Ballet" (the 'run for your life' section is incredible), the thirteen-minute "Simple" interrogation that ends the first (of three) acts, and even the prelude is a circus performed by the Marquis de Sade's asylum troupe. But even with all of those up-tempo, go-get-'em numbers, Sondheim delivers some pure, beautiful, so-honest-the-performers-might-as-well-be-slashing-their-wrists beauties like the title song and "With So Little to Be Sure Of," which features the line "I guess I need you more than you need me, and yet I'm happy" — a line that no one else but Stephen Sondheim could have made sing.