PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Chip Zien Shares His Favorite Stephen Sondheim Songs

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05 Dec 2013

Chip Zien
Chip Zien
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Stage and screen actor Chip Zien, known for creating the role of the Baker in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods, makes his "swinging cabaret" debut Dec. 5 at 54 Below. In celebration of the concert, Zien shares his favorite Sondheim tunes as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.

The 9:30 PM concerts, which are held Dec. 5 and Dec. 11, feature a seven-piece jazz band under the direction of Jeff Klitz.

Audiences can expect "some wild jazz standards as well as tunes that trace his brilliant stage career, including special personal favorites from shows that include Grand Hotel, Merrily, Sweeney Todd, The Big Knife, In Trousers and The Dean Martin Show, among many others. Join Chip and his oversized band for two very special performances only – no more riddles, no more jests!"

The singer-actor, who offers a few Sondheim songs at his 54 Below concerts, returned to the Woods as the Mysterious Man in July 2012 in the Shakespeare in the Park staging of Into the Woods. Read the Playbill.com Leading Men column with Zien about his return to the show.

Here, Zien picks ten of his favorite Sondheim songs and tells us why they made his list.

Zien, who was last seen on Broadway in Roundabout Theatre Company's The Big Knife, is a two-time Drama Desk Award nominee for his performances in A New Brain and Isn't It Romantic. He has also been seen on Broadway in The People in the Picture, The Country Girl, Les Misérables, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Boys from Syracuse, Falsettos, Grand Hotel, All Over Town, The Suicide and Ride the Winds.

54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street. There is a $35-$45 cover charge plus a $25 food/beverage minimum. For more information and tickets, call (646) 476-3551 or visit 54Below.com.

"Pretty Woman" (Sweeney Todd). Dreamy, disorienting, evocative imagery – exquisite in every way.

"Not While I’m Around" (Sweeney Todd). In the midst of a macabre story, comes one of the most sensitive lullabies ever.

"Now, Later, Soon" (A Little Night Music). [I was] listening to this recently driving in the country and had to pull off the road. So complicated, so large, so schematically complicated – and all woven together like a beautiful tapestry.

"Opening Doors" (Merrily We Roll Along). I love the youthful exuberance and sense of hope. So much fun and so thoroughly theatrical.

"Not A Day Goes By" (Merrily We Roll Along). Not a day goes by when this tune, full of longing and pain, fails to pop into my head… And, I hear the wonderful Marin Mazzie, fresh out of college, singing this so beautifully in a production of Merrily in La Jolla.

"Move On" (Sunday in the Park With George). "…and the light" - the shock and excitement of that phrase (and Mandy singing it)… the intimate, explosive raw emotion of creation all wrapped up in a perfect moment…

"Sunday" (Sunday in the Park With George). Is there a more luscious choral song ever written? For Steve's 80th birthday, all those voices streaming into Avery Fisher – simply jaw dropping…

"Everybody Ought To Have a Maid" (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum). Steve's ability to combine the old and the new… Emblematic of so many of his funny songs – charming, witty, and a rip-roaring sense of musical comedy.

"Our Time" (Merrily We Roll Along). A call to arms for every generation to look within and create beautiful things.

"No More" (Into the Woods). A song about so many things… about everything. So deeply personal. Can't believe I got to sing it.