[A] fascinating and rigorous, no-punches-pulled investigation into the provenance and parturition of his and Stephen Sondheim’s first collaboration ... This is not a collection of gossip. It is actually a story of artistic steadfastness, revealing as much about the ultimate work as the experience the participants endured while making it.
... absorbing ... That race—starting from that day in 1982 to May 2, 1984, when their creation opened on Broadway for 604 performances, winning its own Pultizer along the way—is thoroughly and entertainingly chronicled in Lapine’s book. Through interviews with dozens of its creative team—from producers and designers to actors and stagehands—he presents an invaluable historical document, remarkable in its detail considering the lapse in time of nearly four decades ... Backstage sagas are always irresistible to theater fans, and this one had more than its share of twists and turns ... Lapine is an easygoing, self-effacing, candid narrator, aware that as he went through the responsibilities of both librettist and director he was treated with skepticism by the cast for his off-Broadway roots and lack of experience ... As a bonus, the oversized tome is handsomely designed, chock full of color and black-and-white photos, designers’ sketches, Sondheim’s and Lapine’s notes, and even samples of Seurat’s other work.
It is based on interviews with some 40 people who worked on the show, Mr. Sondheim foremost among them, and all are forthright and revealing, as well as amusing ... Putting It Together is the richest backstage memoir I know that concentrates on the work itself. If you want to learn what it’s like to put on a professional show, Mr. Lapine’s book tells pretty much everything ... Best of all are the conversations in which Mr. Lapine and Mr. Sondheim admit you to their workshop, sharing memories that illuminate their creative process like a flash of lightning.