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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Sondheim’

Melissa Errico Sings Sondheim at Feinstein’s/54 Below

May 5th, 2017 Comments off
Melissa Errico (Photo provided by Sam Morris PR via The Broadway Blog.)

Melissa Errico (Photo provided by Sam Morris PR via The Broadway Blog.)

Tony Award-nominated singer and actress Melissa Errico will return to Feinstein’s/54 Below on Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m. for the NYC debut of her acclaimed concert “Melissa Errico Sings Sondheim” where she will lend her gorgeous voice to the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, including songs from shows of his that she has starred in. With numbers from Gypsy, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, A Little Night Music, and more, the concert is one no Sondheim or Broadway fan should miss.

As DC Arts wrote from the debut of “Melissa Errico Sings Sondheim”: “Her song choices were interesting and varied, [from] a fun jazz arrangement of ‘Not While I’m Around’ from Sweeney Todd to slightly lesser-heard Sondheim songs. Her rendition of ‘(Not) Getting Married Today’ from Company was hilarious and had the audience in stitches. Errico’s skill as a singer and as an actress was most clearly evident in her rendition of ‘Send in the Clowns,’ the highlight of the night.”

Errico’s history with Sondheim began when he selected her to star as Dot in Sunday In The Park With George at The Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration. She went on to perform many tribute concerts for Sondheim at such venues as Avery Fisher Music Hall, Symphony Space, and The Natural History Museum. Errico was honored to costar as Clara opposite Judy Kuhn in Passion at Classic Stage Company, and critics called Errico’s Drama Desk-nominated performance “sublime; I’ve never seen or heard a better Clara,” (The Wall Street Journal).

In the 2016 Encores! season, Melissa tackled one of Sondheim’s most controversial and conflicted heroines when she shone as Leona in Do I Hear A Waltz?. For this, it was said that “Errico delivers an emotionally complex and haunting performance” (The Hollywood Reporter) and her interpretation was called “exquisite” (The New York Times).

Tickets are $40-$80 and can be purchased online at www.54Below.com or by phone at 646-476-3551.

Broadway’s Three to See

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

Broadway and beyond is delivering the goods this month, with star turns from Glenn Close and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as the latest musical from legendary composer John Kander. Here are our picks of what not to miss.

Glenn Close in 'Sunset Boulevard.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Glenn Close in ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Sunset Boulevard
Glenn Close returns to Broadway in her Tony Award-winning role as the wide-eyed Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic Sunset Boulevard. John Napier’s towering sets for the original production have been stripped down to make room for the largest Broadway orchestra in 80 years.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screenwriter, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.

Ben Brantley described Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond as “One of the great performances of this century.”

Sunset Boulevard
Palace Theatre
1564 Broadway
Through June 25

The cast of 'Kid Victory.' (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of ‘Kid Victory.’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Kid Victory
Kid Victory, a haunting new musical, is the latest collaboration from the creators of Vineyard Theatre’s The Landing, composer John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys) and playwright Greg Pierce (Slowgirl, Her Requiem).

Seventeen-year-old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance. Directed by Liesl Tommy (Broadway’s Eclipse, recipient of The Vineyard’s Susan Stroman Directing Award) and choreographed by Christopher Windom (Pippin, Drama League Fellow Assistant Director) in their Vineyard debuts.

Kid Victory
Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street
Opening night: February 22

 

sunday in the park with george
Sunday in the Park with George

One of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s most celebrated musicals returns (again) for a limited run starring Jake Gyllenhaal making his Broadway debut, and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots, Wicked). With a two-act structure that loosely follows the life of Impressionist painter George Seurat, Sunday in the Park with George has become a cult favorite since its original 1983 Off Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons. Past revivals have included the 2008 transfer of Menier Chocolate Factory’s production.

This production is based on the 2016 City Center concert and has a limited run through April 23.

Sunday in the Park with George
Hudson Theatre
139-141 West 44th Street
Opening night: February 23

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.

 

 

‘Sunday in the Park with George’ Returns to Broadway… Again

December 13th, 2016 Comments off

sunday in the park with george

Ambassador Theatre Group (Mark Cornell, CEO; Adam Speers, Executive Producer) has announced that the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George, starring Academy Award nominee Jake

Gyllenhaal and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford will re-open the historic Hudson Theatre (139-141 West 44th Street) on Broadway this winter for a strictly limited 10-week engagement. Performances are set to begin Saturday, February 11, 2017, ahead of a Thursday, February 23 Opening Night, and will play through Sunday, April 23.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)

“We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming audiences back to the historic Hudson Theater for the first time in almost 50 years with this musical classic,” said Mark Cornell, Ambassador Theatre Group’s Chief Executive Officer. “Direct from its acclaimed New York City Center production, Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece Sunday in the Park with George, starring Jake and Annaleigh, is the perfect inaugural offering for this Broadway treasure box. To be re-opening our most intimate of New York venues with this special work makes me excited about the future of the Hudson.”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford, who both earned unanimous raves for their portrayals, will return to their roles, and will mark the second major Broadway revival of Sondheim and Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical. Reviewing the critically acclaimed New York City Center concert production of Sunday in the Park with George, Ben Brantley of the New York Times proclaimed it as “Joyous! This is one of those shows that seems destined to be forever spoken of with misty-eyed bragging rights by anyone who sees it.”

Annaleigh Ashford (Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)

Annaleigh Ashford (Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)

“Opening the historic Hudson Theatre with this magnificent show, for me, is about the possibilities – a blank page, the white canvas, a new era for a theater and the great work to come,” said Jeanine Tesori, New York City Center Artistic Advisor and producer of the NYCC concert production.  “Together, Jake and Annaleigh broke my heart wide open. I am so happy we will be able to see them on stage again.”

Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece follows painter Georges Seurat (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Consumed by his need to “finish the hat,” Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists, and neglects his lover Dot (Annaleigh Ashford), not realizing that his actions will reverberate over the next 100 years.

With music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, Sunday in the Park with George is directed by Sarna Lapine. Sunday in the Park with George is produced on Broadway by Adam Speers for Ambassador Theatre Group, New York City Center, Jeanine Tesori, and Riva Marker.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.thehudsonbroadway.com or by calling 855-801-5876.

 

First Look: ‘Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened’

October 12th, 2016 Comments off

Best Worst Thing That Could Have HappenedSondheim fans love the cult favorite, Merrily We Roll Along, the 1981 bomb that lasted only 16 performances on Broadway.

Atlas Media has announced that its upcoming feature-length documentary, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened—a thrilling, behind-the-scenes look into the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of perhaps Stephen Sondheim’s most beloved work—has been acquired for theatrical distribution by Abramorama, the industry’s preeminent distributor of independent cinema.

Best Worst Thing… will be released theatrically on Friday, November 18 in New York City at Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 W. 65th Street) as well as the IFC Center (323 6th Avenue); and on Friday, November 25 in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre(1523 Santa Monica Blvd.).

Take a first look at the documentary…

 

NJPAC Benefit Celebrates Stephen Sondheim

October 6th, 2015 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

Tony Yazbeck, Seth Rudetsky and James Monroe Iglehart (Photo courtesy of NJPAC via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Tony Yazbeck, Seth Rudetsky and James Monroe Iglehart. (Photo courtesy of NJPAC via The Broadway Blog.)

Remember that song Stephen Sondheim wrote about bleu cheese? Okay. You’re right. Sondheim did not write an opus to Gorgonzola, but it was a clever addition to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s (NJPAC) Annual Spotlight Gala, produced by the Women’s Association of NJPAC. The event, which was held this past Saturday, gathered Broadway’s finest for an evening of songs that celebrated Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday.

A brief awards video and ceremony kicked off the festive evening, honoring individuals who have made a notable impact in both Newark, where NJPAC is located, and throughout the local arts community.

Students (Jaci Coleman, Alexandra Salort, and Jacob Tall) from NJPAC’s arts education program then took to the stage  with an impressive three-part harmony rendition of “Comedy Tonight” from Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum. Music Director and the night’s host, Seth Rudetsky, introduced James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin) and Tony Yazbeck (On The Town), who performed “Agony” from Into the Woods. Iglehart, who is a member of the Broadway hip hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme, remained onstage and requested a theme from the audience. Someone shouted “Blue Cheese!” and Iglehart proceeded to riff and rhyme on the topic to enthusiastic applause.

Judy Kuhn (Photo courtesy of NJPAC via The Broadway Blog.)

Judy Kuhn (Photo courtesy of NJPAC via The Broadway Blog.)

Other highlights of the evening included a gorgeous duet between Judy Kuhn (Fun Home) and Vanessa Williams (Into the Woods), who performed a medley of “Losing My Mind” (Follies) and “Not a Day Goes By” (Merrily We Roll Along).

Stage stalwart Len Cariou, who originated two Sondheim roles  (Fredrik in A Little Night Music and the title role in Sweeney Todd), made special appearances, first as Sweeney Todd, playing opposite the non-traditional casting of Iglehart as Mrs. Lovett, who amusingly sang “The Worst Pies In London.”

Cariou then shared an anecdote about how Sondheim told him that he was writing an 11 o’ clock number for his character in A Little Night Music. After book writer Hugh Wheeler had rewritten the scene, Sondheim came back and said, “I’ve written the song, but Frederik won’t sing it. His ex-wife Desiree will.” “Send In the Clowns” was the song, and Cariou—years later—delivered a sensitive and poignant interpretation.

Rudestky and his 8-piece band kept the evening moving along as the music director conveyed his usual witty banter with the evening’s stars.

The music continues on Oct. 15 as one of Broadway’s finest interpreter of Sondheim songs, Bernadette Peters, takes to the NJPAC stage for a live concert.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

Theater Buzz Beyond Broadway

September 11th, 2013 Comments off

We’re in a bit of a lull as the Broadway season is about to kick off, but have no fear—we can create our own drama here at the Broadway Blog. Broadway openings later this month include Romeo & Juliet and The Glass Menagerie. What is happening a few steps off of the Great White Way? Take a look…

One of our favorite productions from the West End last season, Merrily We Roll Along, will be screened as part of Fathom Events on October 23. If you are a Sondheim fan, we hear by order you to attend or we’ll revoke your fan club card. Set over three decades in the entertainment business, Merrily We Roll Along charts the relationship between three friends Franklin, Mary and Charley. Travelling backwards in time, the score features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful songs including “Good Thing Going” and “Not a Day Goes By.” Cinema audiences will be treated to an exclusive backstage experience with cast interviews and more! CLICK HERE for tickets, which go on sale September 13.

(photo: 54 Below)

(photo: 54 Below)

For all your self-embracing theater geeks out there, the cast of the 2003 film Camp will reunite at 54 Below on Friday, October 3. Director Todd Graff and actors Robin De Jesus, Brittany Pollack and others will be present for a pre-screening talkback. The film includes pre-Glee teen interpretations from hit shows such as Company and Dreamgirls. 

For those fans of American history (or if you just like to see men in tights), American Conservatory Theater presents a brand new staging of the Tony-winning 1776. This West Coast premiere is directed by Frank Galati and traces the heated debates surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. According to ACT, “More than 230 years ago, our founding fathers wrestled with infighting, held heated debates, and negotiated compromises while drafting the Declaration of Independence. In this exhilarating work, the political skirmishes that played out centuries ago have surprising contemporary resonance. Hailed by critics as “brilliant,” “thrilling,” and “utterly riveting”—and filled with glorious music and unforgettable characters—1776 takes us on a vivid, rousing, and suspenseful adventure into the fascinating first chapter of American history.”

‘A Little Night Music’ film soundtrack release

September 7th, 2013 Comments off

Contributor Lindsay B. Davis on the release of the soundtrack for the 1977 film ‘A Little Night Music,’ an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical.   

Stephen Sondheim, the legendary Broadway musical theater composer and lyricist, once said in a 2006 interview with Time Out London, “The movie adaptations of stage musicals that I’ve seen, without exception, in my opinion don’t work…It’s not just the realism but the fact that a close-up on screen can say all a song can: ‘What justifies a character singing one idea, no matter how cleverly, for three minutes on the screen? I get impatient and want the story to carry on. I don’t get impatient in the theatre.

A Little Night Music

This could explain why, for many years, the 1977 film adaptation of acclaimed Broadway musical A Little Night Music (1973) was one of only a few Sondheim musicals to migrate from stage to screen. Directed by Hal Prince (who directed the Broadway original as well) it stars Elizabeth Taylor as actress Desiree Armfeldt (in a role originated by Glynis Johns) and despite Taylor’s star power, the overall reception was decidedly negative. Said New York Times critic Vincent Camby, “Having elected to transform the Sondheim show into a film, Mr. Prince appears to have made every decision that could sabotage the music and the lyrics. He has cast the film with people who don’t sing very well and then staged almost every number in such a way that we can’t respond to the lyrics.”

That did not stop the Academy from awarding the film with its Best Adaptation Score Oscar, which speaks volumes about how a good soundtrack could often transcend a mediocre film, as is the case with A Little Night Music, being released by Masterworks BroadwayWhile the film soundtrack may not appeal to Broadway purists (due to 5 of the Broadway original’s songs being left out, others like “The Glamour Life” being seriously revised and the mid-level vocals of Ms. Taylor) it has appeal and even when listened to without the context of the film or having seen the musical, quite lovely. Consider it one to enjoy with a hot cup of coffee and croissant on a Sunday morning. Listen to  “A Weekend in the Country” and be swept away. A weekend in the country taking rambles, having leisurely chats…Feel the solemnity of the all instrumental “Poor Old Frederick.” Find yourself singing out along with Taylor in “Send in the Clowns” … Isn’t it bliss? Don’t you approve? … before perhaps Googling Judi Collins’ rendition.

Other highlights include “Now Soon Later” and “Every Day a Little Death,” which has the cinema’s clickety-clack sound of a carriage ride and horse’s nays in the background. Sung by Diana Rigg and Lesley-Anne Down, with Rigg’s triumphant and rich resonance, it is so moving. A song that aches. Love’s disgusting and insane. A humiliating business. Oh, how true. Ah, well.

The newly-remastered CD is transferred from the original stereo masters, and includes liner notes by Sondheim archivist Peter E. Jones. The CD will be available through Arkiv Music on September 10, plus downloads through digital service providers the same day.

Lindsay B. Davis is an arts/culture journalist and theater artist. She resides in New York City. 

“Once” Explodes, “Assassins” Guns for a Return & More Theater News

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

Lauren Molina & Jason Tam. Photo by Win Lubin.

I’m back from my hiatus only to discover that the theater world continued on without me. The nerve! So let’s catch up with a few of the biggest stories in a slam bang news round-up…

  • Certain theater producers better be buying everybody rounds of drinks at Bar Centrale this week, because two Broadway shows announced they have officially recouped their investments. The Tony-winning Best Musical Once and the imported farce One Man, Two Gov’nors are now playing for profit, baby. (Might I suggest that if you see a show with “three” in the title, you invest in it right now.)
  • Broadway Cast of "Assassins". Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Speaking of number one with a bullet, my favorite under-appreciated  Sondheim score, Assassins, will be heard again in New York at a one night only benefit performance for the Roundabout Musical Theatre Program. The cast of the acclaimed 2004 revival–including the snoggable Neil Patrick Harris and the divine Denis O’Hare–will reunite on December 3 for a reading of the gorgeously twisted show.

  • While we’re on a Sondheim binge (“More hot pies!”), the Keen Company announced the cast for their upcoming revival of the revue Marry Me a Little. Starting Septemeber 11, the lovely Lauren Molina and the, well, lovely Jason Tam will be singing a host of Uncle Steve’s best including trunk song rarities like “Rainbows” from the much delayed film version of Into the Woods.
  • I don’t know about you but I wanted to be Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark) when I grew up. I mean, seriously, she could handle her whiskey and she got to kiss Harrison Ford. She also happens to be a compelling actress with theatrical credits beyond her 80’s blockbuster film resume. All this is a long-winded way of saying that Ms. Allen will be starring in a new play, A Summer Day by Jon Fosse, starting October 10 at the Cherry Lane Theater. Don’t let anything (say, huge rolling boulders or a temple full of snakes) get in your way of seeing it.
  • And while we’re thinking of Indiana Jones (go with me), the opening sequence in the second film in that series not only started with a big musical number but it took place in Shanghai…which, according to the New York Times, is now the proposed home for a multi-billion dollar entertainment complex intended to “to rival the Broadway theater district in New York and the West End in London.” (Yeah, even my head hurts trying to follow that segue.) The project, expected to be completed by 2016, is a joint initiative between Chinese partners and the folks at Dreamworks Animation SKG (Spielberg! See, it’s all connected).

SHOW FOLK: David Ives on “Venus”, Dirty Books & Calls from Sondheim

May 9th, 2012 Comments off

Nina Arianda & Hugh Dancy in "Venus in Fur". Photo by Joan Marcus.

“There’s nothing in that.”

Those were the sage words of advice David Ives received from his father as the young playwright headed off to the Yale School of Drama. We should all have such nothing. With a career spanning influential comedies like All in the Timing and acclaimed translations of classics like the Moliere “rewrite” School for Lies, to his current Tony-nominated, Broadway hit Venus in Fur, Ives has proven those words wrong and made a life working in the theater.

During a recent discussion moderated by famed critic John Lahr at the 92nd Street Y Tribecca, Ives opened up about the highs and lows of his career in sparklingly articulate and, at times, raucously deadpan stories — from his tragically lost first play to his current much-anticipated collaboration with Stephen Sondheim.

On his unfortunate debut as a playwright: 

I got bitten by the theater bug quite early and I wrote my first play when I was nine. I took this three hundred page, sort of noir novel out of my parents’ library and I turned it into a ten minute play. For my cub scout troupe. I was going to play the lead, of course, and all my friends were going to play the secondary roles which were much smaller. But what I didn’t know is that everyone in the play has to get a copy of the script. And so I learned my lines, I passed the script on and he lost it. And it was probably my best work ever. I’m still looking for it.

On the thrill of discovering his love for theater:

The stinger really stuck in my flesh when I was seventeen and I went to see Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in A Delicate Balance. It came through Chicago. I well remember the sensation that I had sitting in the front of the balcony for $3.65 and watching Cronyn & Tandy and feeling like I was in the front car of the Cyclone in Coney Island. Because I had never seen anything like this, something so extraordinarily passionate and eloquent. I might as well have just gone home that day and written my parents a note that said, “Dear Mom & Dad, I’m going to be a playwright. Nothing can stop me.”

Read more…

Win Tickets to “Over the Moon” Concert Event

April 19th, 2012 Comments off

"Over the Moon". Image via overthemoonbroadway.com.

How would you like to see some of your favorite Broadway stars live (including Donna Murphy, Marc Kudisch and recent Tony-winner Nikki M. James), singing original songs by Stephen Sondheim, Tom Kitt, Stephen Schwartz and more?  We’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away to a star-studded concert celebrating the release of Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project, a 2 CD/book/e-book/documentary initiative featuring original lullabies written and performed by music theater’s best. With proceeds from the project supporting breast cancer charities and the event being hosted by the fabulous Edie Falco (The Sopranos), it all sounds like an unmissable, one-of-a-kind evening of song and good deeds.

So how can you attend the concert on May 7 at 8pm at the Stephen Sondheim Theater on West 43rd? Just tell me in the comments below which Broadway star you’d most like to come to your bedroom and sing you to sleep. Leave your comment by the end of the day Wednesday, April 25. I’ll randomly select two winners to receive a pair of tickets each and notify them via a reply to their comments on this post. [Do check back on Thursday to see if you’ve won and how to claim your tickets.]

And as a little preview, here’s some video of the record session for one track on the CD, “This Little World” by Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and performed by Raul Esparza.

Read more…