Sondheim on Sondheim Extends Broadway Run

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
and Kenneth Jones
03 May 2010

<I>Sondheim on Sondheim</I> star Vanessa Williams with Matthew Scott
Sondheim on Sondheim star Vanessa Williams with Matthew Scott
Richard Termine

Sondheim on Sondheim, a unique musical that is part video documentary and part starry Broadway revue, has extended its run on Broadway at Studio 54.

Originally scheduled to play through June 13, the production — which opened April 22 — will now end its run June 27.

Director James Lapine, who created the musicals Into the Woods, Passion and Sunday in the Park With George with Sondheim, conceived the new musical, enlisting a cast that includes Tony Award winner Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton, Erin Mackey and Matthew Scott.

Previews for the Roundabout Theatre Company production began March 19.

The musical portrait integrates stars, songs and dance — plus candid video interviews with the 80-year-old composer-lyricist. Most of the high-def video sequences (on screens that shift in varied patterns throughout the two-act show) were shot specifically for Sondheim on Sondheim, letting the writer talk (sometimes in the setting of his Manhattan studio) about his childhood, his parents' divorce, his cold mother, his love life, his surrogate father (Oscar Hammerstein II), his work habits, and, of course, his many Broadway scores (A Little Night Music, Follies, Company, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, among many others).

Act Two opens with an original song called "God," written by the master specifically for Sondheim on Sondheim. In it, he pokes fun at how revered (and sometimes reviled) he is by theatregoers and critics. The number was inspired by a past New York magazine cover story that asked, "Is Stephen Sondheim God?"



This limited run coincides with the 80th birthday of the Tony Award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-honored Sondheim. His milestone was March 22.

Well-known and obscure — or sometimes "cut" — songs from Sondheim's groundbreaking musicals surface in Sondheim on Sondheim. Lapine taps a rich well, including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Passion, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park With George, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Do I Hear a Waltz?, Anyone Can Whistle and more.

In addition to crafting solos and duets that express Sondheim's more universal songs, the director and cast recreate entire signature numbers from Sondheim shows. The troupers are in character, but the "costumes" are — for the most part — contemporary and sleek. Expect to see full versions of "Franklin Shepard, Inc.," "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs" "Beautiful" and "Opening Doors," plus pieces of Passion (between the Fosca of Cook and the Giorgio of Lewis) and a cut song from Company called "The Wedding Is Off," sung by the neurotic character of Amy (played by Williams).