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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "Sondheim on Sondheim" at Studio 54
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "Sondheim on Sondheim" at Studio 54

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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400 West 119th Street
New York, New York 10027

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Roundabout Theatre Company

Todd Haimes, Artistic Director
Harold Wolpert, Managing Director
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
et al.

Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat
Sondheim on Sondheim

Music and Lyrics by
Stephen Sondheim
(Stephen Sondheim Bio)

Studio 54
254 West 54th Street

Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton,
Erin Mackey, Matthew Scott

Conceived and Directed by James Lapine

Musical Staging: Dan Knechtges
Music Direction/Arrangements: David Loud
Set Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design: Ken Billington
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier
Video & Projection Design: Peter Flaherty
Orchestrations: Michael Starobin
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Production Stage Manager: Peter Hanson
Casting: Jim Carnahan CSA & Stephen Kopel
Technical Supervisor: Steve Beers
Executive Producer: Sydney Beers
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Director of Marketing & Sales: David B. Steffen
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 25, 2010

With a superb cast and a magnificent projection design, Sondheim on Sondheim brought us stacks of songs from nineteen Sondheim musicals, plus engaging interview clips of Stephen Sondheim, himself. James Lapine conceived and directed this two-act extravaganza, that recreated brief moments and whole segments of shows, like West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, and Into the Woods. Many of today’s showcased musicals were currently or recently revived on Broadway, but audiences will always rush to hear a new rendition of “Send in the Clown”, “Do I Hear a Waltz?”, and “Comedy Tonight”, especially when Barbara Cook is onstage.

Ms. Cook was joined in song and repartee by Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat, as well as Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton, Erin Mackey, and Matthew Scott. Beowulf Boritt’s movable cubes create projection space for Sondheim to introduce and comment on his growing up with the Hammersteins, his living-working quarters and composition process, and, poignantly, his close family experiences, many of which inspired the edge and themes of his music. Little known works included Saturday Night (“So Many People”), Evening Primrose (“Take Me to the World”), Road Show (“The Best Thing that Ever Has Happened”), and Merrily We Roll Along, a show with better known songs, like “Now You Know” and “Old Friends”. The audience seemed enthralled to hear familiar tunes in such an informative context, learning of the roots of inspiration and the various incarnations of each song.

Better known shows, like Company and Follies, gave us, respectively, “Being Alive” and “Losing My Mind”, and the Sondheim on Sondheim cast had a great time revisiting their lyrics, as did the audience, on hearing phrases evocative of lost lovers and longer lost marriages. In fact, the hardship of relationships was a recurring theme, as were loneliness, survival, and the power of enduring friends. Barbara Cook seizes the stage with an immediate connection to her fans, enveloping her lyrics with emotional depth. Her “Send In the Clowns” was understated and radiant. Vanessa Williams performs like a diva, and her “Ah, But Underneath”, from Follies, was glamorous and gripping. Tom Wopat creates a palette of personalities, especially in his duo with Ms. Cook, “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”, from Company. Norm Lewis sings with vibrant tones, and the entire ensemble was entertaining, enthused, and elegant. Sondheim on Sondheim is actually a show that promotes the Sondheim repertoire, and I, for one, look forward to getting to know more of the shows we previewed at today’s matinee. Kudos to Stephen Sondheim.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at