Sondheim on Sondheim

My friend Colin had a framed type-written signed letter from Stephen Sondheim on the wall of his apartment. He also had one from Dame Judi Dench also, but that’s just bragging :) I don’t remember exactly what the letter said, though I’m guessing, since it was Sondheim, it was probably beautifully written, sensitive and with a twist of humour. I don’t imagine it was a form letter.

The reason I feel this way is because I began to understand a little more about his character from attending “Sondheim on Sondheim”, a musical review featuring some of the best of his works, currently playing at Sydney’s Seymour Centre. The songs are accompanied video inserts of Sondheim himself providing a narrative, talking about his works (the good, the bad, the indifferent) and his feelings about them many years later. The narration is very funny, often touching (as he spoke about being raised by Oscar Hammerstein, for example), and always witty and intelligent.

The performances in this particular production are stellar. “There wasn’t a single dud amongst them”, a friend who is a performer told me during intermission. Great voices. Great harmonies.

Though it could have been little more than a “hits and memories” musical, this particular review steers clear of that. Sadly for me, the production failed to include some his bigger hits, “Another Hundred People” and “Ladies Who Lunch” (for example), instead featuring some of his more obscure works. One song, for example, we’re told was only performed once and then dropped. There’s also a segment which takes the piss out of arguably his best known work, “Send In The Clowns”. Very funny.

If you love musical theatre, I’d highly recommend seeing it during its short run at the Seymour Centre. Colin would have loved it, I’m sure.

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