In the 1950s, John Weidman was a very good Westport Little League shortstop (the Jaguars, if it still matters). He memorized “zillions” of TV commercials, a former teammate says, and recited them on the field during lulls in action.
Then he realized: “There are no major league players from Westport.”
But there was more than baseball in his future. As the son of Jerome Weidman — author of I Can Get It for You Wholesale — he gravitated toward writing. At Harvard he befriended 1968 classmate Timothy Crouse. They co-wrote a Hasty Pudding show.
Despite earning a law degree from Yale (where one of his classmates was Clarence Thomas), he circled back to writing. On a whim he wrote Hal Prince with an idea. The producer gave him $500; Weidman wrote “Pacific Overtures,” which Prince then handed over to Stephen Sondheim to turn into a musical.
Weidman kept writing: for National Lampoon, “Sesame Street,” then a revision — with Timothy Crouse — of Crouse’s father’s “Anything Goes.”
The Weidman-Sondheim collaboration continued with “Assassins” in 1990, and “Road Show” in 2008. Weidman was nominated for 3 Tony Awards (and won for “Contact”); he also won a dozen Emmys for “Sesame Street.” He’s served 10 years as president of the Dramatists Guild.
That’s a nice little story — local boy makes good — but there’s another town connection even many long-time residents may not know:
Back in his teenage days, Stephen Sondheim was an apprentice at the Westport Country Playhouse.
The Weidman-Sondheim connection goes further than even they may realize.