On March 14, Classic Stage Company presented The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim, a concert featuring some of Stephen Sondheim’s most celebrated songs. The evening was directed and hosted by Tony winner and frequent Sondheim collaborator John Doyle, who will soon be at the helm of CSC.
The gala benefit, held at Alice Tully Hall, featured a stellar line-up of Broadway’s leading ladies including Victoria Clark, Cynthia Erivo, Joaquina Kalukango, Judy Kuhn, Patti LuPone, Marin Mazzie and Alexandra Silber.
The evening began with a performance of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” sung by the choir. “It was the production that brought me here ten years ago,” U.K.-born Doyle told the audience, fondly recalling his Broadway debut in 2005.
Later in the evening, Doyle spoke of the production again when he introduced LuPone, who starred as Mrs. Lovett in the Broadway revival. He spoke of their first meeting, when they drank wine and wandered the streets of Portland together. “She looked after me and guided me through my Broadway debut,” said the director. “There’s nobody better to do it. If you want somebody looking out for you, you want this lady.”
LuPone performed “Not While I’m Around” from the show, as well as “Another Hundred People” and “Ladies Who Lunch” from Company, which Doyle also directed. In signature diva style, the two-time Tony winner performed her last number with a martini in hand before throwing it into the audience at the end, spraying the front rows. LuPone took advantage of her time on stage to make an anti-Trump statement. She wasn’t alone, Mazzie did similar during her performance of “Losing My Mind” from Follies.
From one debut to another, Doyle spoke of the “new star, glittering on Broadway.” “Three years ago, I met a very modern young girl at an audition in a dusty room in London,” said the director. “One of the greatest gifts given to a director is the opportunity to give somebody their Broadway debut. Sondheim gave it to me; it was my privilege to give it to [Cynthia Erivo].”
Erivo performed a hair-raising “Being Alive” from Company, as well as “If Momma Was Married” from Gypsy with her Color Purple co-star Kalukango. Other highlights included Mazzie’s heartfelt rendition of “I’m Still Here” from Follies—made all the more triumphant by her recent cancer battle; and Clark’s vibrant “Everybody Says Don’t” from Anybody Can Whistle. Clark also performed “So Many People” from Saturday Night.
Kuhn performed an emotional rendition of “Happiness/In Buddy’s Eyes” and “I Wish I Could Forget You” from Follies and Passion, respectively; Silber sang a powerful “Maria” from West Side Story and “On the Steps of the Palace” from Into the Woods.
The choir performed “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” “Somewhere,” “Sunday” and “Broadway Baby.” The ensemble was made up of Phoenix Best, Carrie Compere, Diana DiMarzio, Adrianna Hicks, Bre Jackson, Maggie Lakis, Emily Mechler, Jane Pfitch, Carla R. Stewart, Rema Webb, Elisa Winter and Jessica Wright.
The evening concluded with a dinner and benefit raffle. For more information on CSC, call (212) 352-3101, visit the theatre in person at 136 East 13th Street or go to classicstage.org.