Sondheim Bliss !

I can’t recommend the Sondheim at 80 concert by the National Symphony Orchestra nearly enough !  It was absolute bliss to hear top-notch actor/singers perform the material backed by the full symphony orchestra and chorus!  And what bliss to hear a full size symphony attack the overtures to Forum and Merrily !

Highlights of the show included Liz Callaway’s moving performances of Children Will Listen and Not a Day Goes By (don’t forget, she was in the original cast).  Maria Friedman scored being funny in Broadway Baby, being touching in Children and Art, and being heartbreaking in Send in the Clowns (one of the best examples of the technique Amanda McBroom calls “seeing the movie in your mind.”)  Michael Cerveris got to fulfill the fantasy of every actor playing Sweeney Todd, performing These Are My Friends as a solo, without a Mrs. Lovett constantly interrupting you. (Although it did shock me that Ceveris and Brian D’Arcy James were occasionally very approximate with lyrics for songs from roles they hadn’t played.*)

I remember passionate arguments about the work of Sondheim in the ’80s.  It’s fascinating to hear, two decades later, how easy and approachable his work now seems.  Especially now when trying to absorb the work of writers like Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa and Ricky Ian Gordon!

In the “talkback” after the show, Marvin Hamlisch admitted that one of the hardest challenges with a program like this is that someone will inevitably say, “Why didn’t you do ____________ ?”  The one number I would have loved to hear with a full orchestra is the theme from Stavisky:

Here’s what was performed:

  • Act I
    • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Overture — Orchestra
    • Everybody Ought to Have a Maid — Michael Cerveris & Brian D’Arcy James
    • Comedy Tonight –Orchestra
    • Getting Married Today — Liz Callaway & Company
    • You Could Drive a Person Crazy — Liz Callaway, Maria Friedman, Patricia Noonan
    • Being Alive — Brian D’Arcy James
    • I Remember — Patricia Noonan
    • Merrily We Roll Along Overture — Orchestra
    • Not a Day Goes By — Liz Callaway
    • You Must Meet My Wife — Michael Cerveris & Maria Friedman
    • Send in the Clowns — Maria Friedman
  • Act II
    • Sweeney Todd Suite — Orchestra
    • Not While I’m Around — Brian D’Arcy James
    • My Friends — Michael Cerveris
    • On the Steps of the Palace — Patricia Noonan
    • Children Will Listen — Liz Callaway
    • Broadway Baby — Maria Friedman
    • Finishing the Hat — Michael Cerveris
    • Children and Art — Maria Friedman
    • Move On — Liz Callaway & Company

*Another annoyance — three songs were misidentified in the listing in the program.  Oy!

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2 Responses to Sondheim Bliss !

  1. kendra says:

    saw it last night and was sitting next to you! thanks for giving me the link to your blog. wasn’t “broadway baby” the song that was accompanied only by marvin hamlisch on the piano? that was also a lovely touch.

  2. michael! you are really something else! rock on man! do you EVER sleep? sending LOVE!

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