Shy? Not Really.
Most people wouldn’t recognize the name Mary Rodgers, but they certainly would know of her father Richard Rodgers, of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart fame.
Perhaps the greatest American melodist, Richard Rodgers wrote the music for hundreds of great songs such as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “It Might as Well Be Spring,” and “My Favorite Things” with Oscar Hammerstein, and “My Funny Valentine” and “Isn’t It Romantic?” with Lorenz Hart.
Richard’s towering talents loomed large in his daughter’s life, and it was years before she was able to climb out from beneath them. But climb she did, going on to write a successful Broadway musical herself, Once Upon a Mattress; oversee production of Leonard Bernstein’s televised Young People’s Concerts; and write a classic children’s novel, Freaky Friday, made into several popular movies.
Mary’s best friend was Stephen Sondheim, and “Steve” was ever at her side, helping out and, as a gay man, dangling just out of reach.
Her friends knew that of all the achievements, Mary’s greatest creation was herself, a smart, funny, vulnerable, endlessly lovable companion. We meet and walk alongside that companion in Mary’s wonderful memoir, Shy, compiled after her 2014 death by New York Times theater critic Jesse Green from taped conversations with Mary.
If you like people and have ever whistled a Broadway tune, you’ll enjoy a walk with Mary Rodgers.