HUFFINGTON POST
12/29/2010 01:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Stephen Sondheim: West Side Story Is 'Embarrassing' (VIDEO)

Stephen Sondheim ain't a Jet or a Shark. In fact, he's not too crazy about his landmark musical, 'West Side Story,' at all.

The famed composer/lyricist, who turned 80 this year, has racked up the awards and legend: eight Tonys, two Grammys, a Pulitzer and an Oscar. But he told Nightline that he thinks that he's dated as a composer -- and finds his most famous play, "embarrassing."

"Most of the lyrics were sort of ... they were very self-conscious," he said in his interview. "[Leonard] Bernstein wanted the songs to be... heavy, what he called 'poetic,' and my idea of poetry and his idea of poetry are polar opposites. I don't mean that they are terrible, I just mean they're so self-conscious."

Well, there are a few lines he finds terrible:

"I'm fond of quoting 'I Feel Pretty,'" Sondheim said. "The street girl is singing, 'It's alarming how charming I feel.' ... I just put my head under my wing and pretend I'm not there."

Still, it's one thing for the iconic Sondheim to insult himself; it's another for critics to do so.

"I think it's the only one of the arts that's mostly reviewed by ignoramuses, people who know nothing about what they're writing about," he said.

For much more, click over to Nightline and watch the interview below:

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