Sondheim's 70th, March 22, Marked With San Francisco Gala, March 18

News   Sondheim's 70th, March 22, Marked With San Francisco Gala, March 18 Stephen Sondheim is turning 70 this year and to honor that, Sondheim-mad San Francisco will be holding a bash March 18 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. American classical composer Jake Heggie, cast members from San Francisco's Phantom of the Opera and San Francisco opera sopranos Nicole Foland and Christine Clayton will lead the celebration of Sondheim's music.

Stephen Sondheim is turning 70 this year and to honor that, Sondheim-mad San Francisco will be holding a bash March 18 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. American classical composer Jake Heggie, cast members from San Francisco's Phantom of the Opera and San Francisco opera sopranos Nicole Foland and Christine Clayton will lead the celebration of Sondheim's music.

Heggie will see the world premiere of his opera, "Dead Man Walking," in October 2000 at the San Francisco Opera. The piece, based on the book and Academy Award nominated film, has a libretto by playwright Terrence McNally.

The event's sponsor, the Rooftop Alternative School, will also perform selections from their upcoming productions of West Side Story and Into the Woods. Gregg Brooks directs the evening.

Aside from bringing attention to the works of Sondheim, this gala also exists to bring to attention the lack of arts teaching in schools and to call for more musical theatre in the classroom. Rooftop itself concentrates on bringing theatre into all subjects at school with Sondheim lyrics being studied in literature and other classes. Rooftop plans to continue this program with Cole Porter in the following semester and the Gershwins in the semester after that.

Tickets to the Sondheim birthday celebration are $45. To reserve, call (415) 550-7000. -- By Christine Ehren