“Sondheim on Sondheim” at PlayhouseSquare
West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion… Stephen Sondheim, master of the American musical.
Sondheim on Sondheim showcases the work of the legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, including the shows above and many more. Produced by Great Lakes Theater, Sondheim on Sondheim is the first (but will not be the last) collaboration between GLT and PlayhouseSquare. And for eight weeks this summer, Sondheim on Sondheim will dazzle patrons of both Great Lakes Theater and PlayhouseSquare on the stage of the beautiful Hanna Theatre.
Sondheim on Sondheim is a musical revue featuring a montage of Sondheim’s work from his early days to his most recent show; from his big hits to a few of his “misses.” Sondheim on Sondheim was originally conceived by Mansfield native, and frequent Sondheim collaborator, James Lapine. In 2010, the show enjoyed a limited run on Broadway. Now in 2012, it comes to Cleveland.
Throughout the show, and weaved into the musical numbers, video feeds of interviews with Sondheim give the audience even more insight into the man and his work. This makes for a fascinating and very different theatrical experience. We learn about Sondheim’s life, his relationship with friend and mentor Oscar Hammerstein II, and why he was originally hesitant to write the lyrics for West Side Story, now one of Broadway’s great classic musicals.
All making their Great Lakes Theater debut, the cast of eight brings Sondheim’s work alive with great emotion, a little humor and a lot of passion. Among the highlights and “stand-out” numbers are Emily Walton’s manic “Getting Married Today” (from Company) and a torch song medley of Marie-France Arcilla’s “Losing My Mind” (from Follies) and Ciara Renée’s “Not a Day Goes By” (from Merrily We Roll Along).
One cast member, Pamela Myers, knows Sondheim all too well, as she played Marta in the original Broadway production of Company and was even nominated for a Tony Award for her performance (1971). Myers reprises her show-stopping number, “Another Hundred People,” in this production of the show. Myers also sings “Send in the Clowns” (from A Little Night Music), perhaps, Sondheim’s most recognized and most beloved song, and another well-known show-stopper, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (from Gypsy).
Sondheim and his work have been honored many times, with way too many awards to mention. But by the numbers, he has won eight Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, six Olivier Awards, and eight Grammy Awards. And if those are not enough, Sondheim has won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (for “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” from Dick Tracy) (1990) and the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Sunday in the Park with George (1985). Sunday in the Park with George is one of only eight musicals to win the Pulitzer since its inception in 1917. And it is an honor well deserved.
Sondheim on Sondheim is the perfect work to conclude both Great Lakes Theater’s 50th Anniversary Season and the 2011-2012 KeyBank Broadway Series. It is glorious Broadway at its very best. You will hear many of your favorite Sondheim tunes and may fall in love with some new ones, along the way. For an enchanting night at the theatre, Sondheim on Sondheim delivers. It truly is “the revue of a lifetime.” Sondheim on Sondheim will continue through July 8.
PlayhouseSquare is now in its 90th year of providing the best of Broadway via both the KeyBank Broadway Series and the U.S. Bank Star Performance Series. For more information about PlayhouseSquare or shows in its 2012-2013 Series, its website is www.PlayhouseSquare.org.
– Christopher S. Musselman