Here's to the Ladies Who Sing Sondheim, with Lansbury, Monk, Russell, McKechnie & Walsh

News   Here's to the Ladies Who Sing Sondheim, with Lansbury, Monk, Russell, McKechnie & Walsh
The promise of Angela Lansbury reuniting with the songs of Stephen Sondheim would seem to be reason enough to fight your way into the sold-out April 7 Broadway concert, The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim. But the benefit for The Acting Company also has the glitter of Jenna Russell, Donna McKechnie, Debra Monk and more stars who have sung the composer-lyricist's work.

Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The 7 PM songbook concert conceived and directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle (Company, Sweeney Todd) is a sell-out partly because of the rare chance to see octogenarian superstar Lansbury — who won a Tony playing Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd in 1979 — sing. (No stranger to composer-lyricist Sondheim, Lansbury also starred in the cult favorite, Anyone Can Whistle, by Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, and as Rose in the first Broadway revival of Sondheim, Laurents and Jule Styne's Gypsy in 1974).

A spokesman for Patti LuPone — Broadway's current Momma Rose in Gypsy — told on Sunday that the actress (an alumna of The Acting Company) would have to sit out the Monday concert; she's under the weather. Likewise, Laura Benanti (Louise in the current Gypsy) also pulled out at the last minute due to illness.

Ticket holders are in for surprises, has learned. A handful of other ladies (including Tony nominee Barbara Walsh and Tony winner Donna McKechnie) and one gentleman (Company Tony nominee Raul Esparza) who sang Sondheim songs on Broadway are expected to jump into the concert.

Walsh was Joanne in Doyle's Company and is currently Desiree in A Little Night Music at Centerstage in Baltimore. McKechnie appeared in the original Company and was Sally in Paper Mill Playhouse's Follies.

Also on the concert's bill at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre are Russell (the British star who is now playing Dot in Broadway's Sunday in the Park With George), Monk (currently of Curtains, who played salty Joanne in 1995's Company on Broadway); and Myers, who played Marta in the original Company. Also sweetening the evening are Heather Laws (Amy of Doyle's Company), Leenya Rideout (Jenny of Doyle's Company), Rebecca Loeb and Jessica Phillips. Summer Boggess (currently playing cello in Tell Me on a Sunday at the Laurie Beechman Theatre) will play cello. Doyle will play host.


Mary-Mitchell Campbell, the music supervisor of Doyle's Company, for which she won a Drama Desk for her orchestrations, is the concert's music director.

Here's how The Acting Company bills the show: "Angela Lansbury is back on Broadway singing Sondheim with...other Broadway notables, in a star-studded event directed and hosted by Tony-winner John Doyle, who weaves together a glorious songbook."

Sondheim is the Pulitzer Prize-honored, Tony Award-winning composer lyricist who wrote lyrics for West Side Story, but broke further ground writing music and lyrics for the musicals Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park With George. His other scores include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Bounce, Passion, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods and Anyone Can Whistle.

The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim will benefit The Acting Company, the not-for-profit touring troupe founded in 1972 by John Houseman and current producing director Margot Harley with members of the first graduating class of Juilliard's Drama Division. Alumni members include Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, David Schramm, Jesse L. Martin, Keith David, Lorraine Toussaint, David Ogden Stiers, Mary Lou Rosato, Lisa Banes, Derek Smith, Frances Conroy, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jeffrey Wright and Rainn Wilson.

The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim ticket prices range $101.50-$251.50. The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre is at 236 W. 45th Street.

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The Acting Company gives young actors the chance to perform classic works, and exposes underserved communities to theatre. The troupe has performed 129 productions for over two million people in 48 states and nine foreign countries.

In the 2007-08 season, the company presented Shakespeare's The Tempest and Moby Dick Rehearsed, Orson Welles' stage adaptation of the classic novel by Herman Melville, directed by Casey Biggs. The 2008-09 season will feature Shakespeare's Henry V (co-produced by The Guthrie Theatre) and the world premiere of The Spy, an adaptation of a James Fenimore Cooper novel, directed by the Guthrie's John-Miller Stephany.

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