A Spoonful of Sherman is a celebration of the iconic Sherman brothers who together wrote some of the most well loved Disney soundtracks ever recorded. We spoke with Robert J Sherman the son of Robert B Sherman to find out more about the show, what audiences can expect and more. Read the full chat below.
What can audiences expect to see from the show A Spoonful of Sherman?
A Spoonful of Sherman is a musical stage show that’s filled to the brim with songs and dancing. It’s all about my family’s century long, songwriting journey and includes songs written by my grandfather, father and uncle and even a few by me! It’s a show about family and family values; and what it is to be on the voyage of the human experience. It’s a show loaded with heart and is very much “The Songbook of Your Childhood” including songs from Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh and so much more! The Swindon audience can expect to hear songs they’ve known all their lives and also they’ll hear some surprises which I think they’ll be delighted with!
What was it like growing up in a musically renowned family?
I’m pleased to report that it was everything that you’d hope it was! Being the son of a famous celebrity is more often than not recounted as a traumatic experience for those in my situation (i.e. being the son of a famous, Hollywood celebrity (Robert B. Sherman or “Bob” as he was known to friends and family). However, such was not at all the case for me. My father had a poet’s heart and an adventurer’s spirit and he brought me along with him on his adventures and joined me on mine. When I was in the Scouts he helped me build my Pinewood Derby car. And we painted the fences of our Beverly Hills mansion together. It was lovely growing up as my father’s son. Also, thank goodness my mother (Joyce Sherman) was very grounded and practical. I could imagine a scenario where being JUST my father’s son alone, could have been TOO avant-garde an upbringing, but my mother’s presence created a healthy balance in our home. She made sure I attended school everyday and got my homework done on time. The combination of both being Bob’s AND Joyce’s son made for a safe and healthy and actually wonder-full childhood. I wouldn’t trade it.
ROBERT J. SHERMAN and ROBERT B. SHERMAN (2003)
What was the first Sherman song you heard?
Well that’s a hard thing to say definitively. Sherman songs were always around as you might imagine. But quite literally my earliest memory was that I wanted to be a songwriter. It’s an odd thing to call an “earliest memory”, to be sure. I was two or three years old when my father brought home the Original Cast Sound Track from Snoopy Come Home. It was a test pressing of the album. I can still remember the whole family gathering around the living room, listening to it. My venerable, old grandfather, patriarch songwriter of the family, Al Sherman was there too. Snoopy (and Sherman Brothers music generally) was filled with songs with which I could readily identify as a kid. It was “Family Music”. I loved it and perhaps that’s why the bond between generations in my family is so strong in my case. We identified with the previous generation’s songwriting straight out of the gate. Hearing the Snoopy soundtrack from the first time, was a family experience. And I loved the idea that one day, I too could be part of my father’s musical dynasty. I have a very clear image of this moment in my mind. I was a bit like a “Young Simba”, “I just couldn’t wait to be a songwriter”, to paraphrase the song, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from The Lion King.
Photo Credit: Jamie Scott-Smith
How influential has the music of the Sherman family been to you and the film and entertainment industry?
I don’t see how it could be anything but all pervasive for me. Of course I have many influences as do all songwriters, but I grew up in my father’s house, so his songs were all around me. They were a part of me – as were my grandfather’s songs. How influential my father and uncle’s and my grandfather’s songs have been to me becomes all-the-more apparent (to me at least) when I speak to my tunesmith contemporaries about their respective approaches to the craft [of songwriting]. My approach is distinctly “old school”. My contemporaries’ approaches are decidedly different. My approach is based on the lessons my father taught me. “A song must be Singable, Sellable and Sincere.” He called this “The Three ’S’ Rule” and it was the system which his own father taught him! It dates back to the days of Tin Pan Alley, a hundred years ago when my grandfather worked as a “song-plugger” at the Remick Music Publishing Company on 28th Street in New York. My style finds its roots from this experience, even though it dates back more than a hundred years.
RICHARD M. SHERMAN, JULIE ANDREWS and ROBERT B. SHERMAN (1965)
If you could pick just one Sherman song which would it be and why?
I would have real difficulty picking just one, but let’s say for argument I were to pick one FOR TODAY, I’ll choose an odd one called, “Cousin Victor’s Elixir” just because it’s quirky and largely unknown and sort of a surprise. You wouldn’t think of it as one of my Dad’s and Uncle’s. Also I just recently posted it on the Sherman Brothers Facebook Group page as the “Song of the Day”. So it’s fresh on my mind. Tomorrow I’d pick a completely different song, to be sure!
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got two projects that I’m hot on at the moment. One is A Spoonful of Sherman of course. Beside being the writer and co-conceiver of this project, I’m also one of the producers and so getting a tour off the ground is always a lot of work. There’s also a lot of love that goes into it. So just because the script is already written, doesn’t mean that my work is done. Also, as the representative from the Sherman Family who’s involved with the project, I’ve got to do interviews at each venue, radio and newspapers, occasionally TV, blogs, the list goes on. There’s tweaks and changes to the script that need to be made as well. Also, I’ve got a project that is equally near and dear to me. It’s called Love Birds. We did the one act version back in 2015 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was lauded by crowds and critics alike. I very much want to expand that show (responsibly) and ultimately bring it to the London stage, possibly via a regional theatre. So I’m in the midst of doing an expansion/rewrite on Love Birds at the moment as well. I’m really pleased with the new songs I’ve written for that project. In fact I’ve included one of those songs in A Spoonful of Sherman. It’s called, “The Dream I Never Dreamed”.
For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/ASpoonfulOfSherman