Tony Award-winning director John Doyle, who staged the Broadway revivals of Sweeney Todd and Company, as well as the world premiere of Sondheim's Road Show, will direct the 7 PM benefit concert. (Sondheim's birthday is actually March 22.)
Encores! musical director Rob Berman will conduct a full orchestra for the evening that will celebrate musicals for which Sondheim penned both music and lyrics. Proceeds will benefit Young Playwrights Inc., which was founded by Sondheim in 1981, and New York City Center's educational and artistic programming.
Performing as part of the concert are a host of theatre veterans who originated roles in original and revival productions of Sondheim's work, including Lansbury (Anyone Can Whistle, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music), LuPone (Sweeney Todd, Gypsy), Murphy (Passion, Encores! Follies), Cerveris (Assassins, Sweeney Todd, Road Show), Esparza (Company), Gleason (Into the Woods), Bernadette Peters (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Gypsy), Barbara Cook (Follies in Concert, Sondheim on Sondheim), Victor Garber (Sweeney Todd, Assassins), Debra Monk (Company, Assassins), Chip Zien (Into the Woods), Alexander Gemignani (Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Road Show), Mark Jacoby (Sweeney Todd), Claybourne Elder (Road Show), Jim Walton (Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd), B.D. Wong (Pacific Overtures) and Sutton Foster (Encores! Anyone Can Whistle).
"I am so delighted to be invited to play some part in the celebrations for Stephen Sondheim," John Doyle said in a statement. "City Center is taking a look back, in concert, at moments from all the shows for which Steve wrote both the words and the music. Highlights will be sung by some of Broadway's most shining stars — all of whom either originated or revived major roles in these shows. We can never celebrate Steve enough. He has done more than any other artist to influence the development of musical theatre. This is simply City Center's way of saying, 'Thank You.'"
Stephen Sondheim, who began his Broadway career as a lyricist for West Side Story and Gypsy, made his debut as a composer/lyricist in 1962 with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Along with collaborators including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, James Goldman, George Furth, James Lapine, John Weidman and Harold Prince, Sondheim revolutionized the face of musical theatre with Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, Anyone Can Whistle, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Assassins, Into the Woods and Passion. His latest musical, Road Show, debuted at the Public Theater in 2009. The Roundabout Theatre Company will present a new revue exploring his craft, Sondheim on Sondheim, beginning March 19. Sondheim will celebrate his 80th birthday March 22.
The gala will begin with cocktails at 6 PM, followed by the 7 PM performance. A post-show dinner will follow at the Plaza Hotel.
For sponsorship packages, ranging $500-$50,000, phone (212) 763-1205.
Performance-only tickets are priced $25, $60, $85 and $250, and are available at the New York City Center box office (W. 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or online at NYCityCenter.