Posts

Broadway Companies come together to celebrate Stephen Sondheim

Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Photo by Jenny Anderson
Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Photo by Jenny Anderson
Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Photo by Jenny Anderson

Today, hundreds of members of the Broadway community and casts of Broadway shows came together to celebrate and honor the life of the late Stephen Sondheim. Gathered on the iconic red steps in Duffy Square, participants sang “Sunday” from Sondheim’s celebrated work, Sunday in the Park with George. They included Lin-Manuel MirandaCelia Keenan-BolgerSara BareillesRaúl EsparzaStephen SchwartzLaura BenantiBrian Stokes MitchellJosh GrobanErich BergenLonny PriceJim WaltonTom KittReeve CarneyEva NoblezadaMarc ShaimanLauren PattenKathryn GallagherAbby MuellerJudy KuhnBrandon UranowitzAdam Chanler-BeratTavi GevinsonErin DavieBryan Clark Tyrell, and many more.

This event was co-presented by the Broadway League, the Times Square Alliance, and Playbill. The participants were conducted by Michael J. Moritz. Produced by Erich Bergen.

, , , ,

Stephen Sondheim was a genius – we shall not see his like again

I never thought Stephen Sondheim would die.

Oh, I know we all do eventually, but he carried with him such an aura of invincibility that if anyone could cheat the passage of time, I assumed it would be musical theatre’s God. (The New York Times even once ran a story on the phenomenon, asking if Sondheim and God had ever been seen in the same place).

Sondheim, the maestro who reinvented musical theatre has passed at his home in Connecticut suddenly at 91.

His attorney, F. Richard Pappas, also confirmed the composer’s death: “The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury,” Pappas said in a written statement. “And he spent all day Wednesday seeing the matinee and evening performances of Dana H and Is This a Room — doing what he most loved to do.”

West End theatres will dim their lights on Monday 29 November at 7.00pm for 2 minutes. This tradition is reserved for the industry’s most celebrated figures and last occurred over here in 2018, following the death of trailblazing choreographer Gillian Lynne.  

In truth, what mattered to Sondheim, widely considered the most influential composer-lyricist in the American musical theatre of the 20th century, was his art, in all its guises. His legacy is eternal.

Stephen Sondheim

Six of Sondheim’s musicals won Tony Awards for best score, and he also received a Pulitzer Prize (Sunday in the Park), an Academy Award (for the song Sooner or Later from the film Dick Tracy), five Olivier Awards and the Presidential Medal of Honor. In 2008, he received a Tony Award for lifetime achievement. 

He was born into a Jewish family in New York City, and his career began in the 1950s, a decade in which he wrote the lyrics for Broadway classics Gypsy and West Side Story. For his fans, his audience, this is a moment of infinite sorrow. 

Looking back, I finally got Sondheim musicals– there’s cynicism, endless philosophy, and pure emotion in his work – when I turned thirty.

Seeing Dominic Cooke’s Follies and Marianne Elliott’s gender flipped Company within months of each other, it’s fair to say, hit me during a life affirming period of reflection and recalibration. 

The West End company of Company
© Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Think of modern musicals like Hamilton and even Fun Home and you’ll find the composers owe their style, as well as the roof over their head and the food on the table, to the genius of Stephen Sondheim. 

All in all, losing Sondheim in 2021 is all the more surprising after he so joyously attended the current revival Company on Broadway earlier this month. A ripple of murmurs and a rapturous standing ovation greeted the masked nonagenarian as he emerged from a side entrance shortly before showtime, walking along the fifth row to his aisle seat. 

Stephen Sondheim attends Company on Broadway

He was a keen teacher and mentor and used his talent always to make a difference. Art isn’t easy.

I asked Robbie Rozelle, A&R Director at Broadway Records for a few words on Sondheim’s legacy and impact. He said: “Taking the foundation that Oscar Hammerstein laid for him, Sondheim proceeded to become the greatest architect of musicals. He was also an important teacher, who worked with people to stretch the form even further – Jonathan Larson, Jason Robert Brown, so many. He was the bridge between the Golden Age of musicals and the new form of musical, and what a beautiful bridge he was.”

Sondheim was also generous with his time, and with his encouragement, just very, very giving. 

An unsurpassed musical theatre super-hero. 

In short, he was an insightful, shrewd operator who could spot a contradiction at 50 paces. The irony of this, and the debt we all owe him, is not lost on me. He is survived by his husband, Jeffrey Scott Romley, whom he married in 2017.

“You have to work on something that makes you uncertain – something that makes you doubt yourself,” 

“If you know where you’re going, you’ve gone, as the poet says. And that’s death,” Sondheim said in 2017.

I’d like to propose a toast. Stephen Joshua Sondheim, may peace be upon you.

Steve

“Company” resumes business as box office opens today

Company

The box office at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th) reopens for business today at 12:00 PM for the highly anticipated return of Marianne Elliott’s revolutionary staging of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s seminal musical masterpiece, Company. Tickets are available for purchase from noon to 8:00 PM, Monday through Saturday at the box office. Additionally, tickets can be purchased at www.companymusical.comwww.telecharge.com, or by calling (800) 447-7400

This visionary production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s landmark American musical, Company, directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Marianne Elliott will resume preview performances on Monday, November 15 ahead of a Thursday, December 9 opening night.

Tony Award winner Katrina Lenk and two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone lead a cast that includes Matt Doyle as Jamie, three-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Fitzgerald as David,  two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber as Harry, Tony Award nominee Jennifer Simard as Sarah, Terence Archie as Larry, Grammy Award winner Etai Benson as Paul, Nikki Renée Daniels as Jenny, Claybourne Elder as Andy, Greg Hildreth as Peter, Rashidra Scott as Susan, and Bobby Conte Thornton as P.J. The complete cast of Company also includes Kathryn AllisonBritney ColemanJavier IgnacioAnisha NagarajanTally Sessions, and Matt Wall. Casting for the role of Theo will be announced in the coming weeks.

Company, the musical comedy masterpiece about the search for love and cocktails in the Big Apple is turned on its head in Elliott’s revelatory staging, in which musical theatre’s most iconic bachelor becomes a bachelorette. At Bobbie’s (Lenk) 35th birthday party, all her friends are wondering why isn’t she married? Why can’t she find the right man?  And, why can’t she settle down and have a family?  This whip smart musical comedy, given a game-changing makeover for a modern-day Manhattan, features some of Sondheim’s best loved songs, including “Company,” “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Side by Side,” and the iconic “Being Alive.”

Sondheim and Elliott have collaborated to update this masterpiece, bringing Bobbie’s array of friends and lovers unswervingly into the 21st century: Paul (Etai Benson) is waiting patiently for his fiancée Jamie (nee “Amy,” played by Matt Doyle) to get over his increasingly frantic wedding day jitters. Sarah (Jennifer Simard) struggles with her body image while her husband Harry (Christopher Sieber) struggles with sobriety – their marital tensions bubbling just under the surface. Joanne (Patti LuPone) is taking a third try at marriage with Larry (Terence Archie), the object of his wife’s affections … and savage barbs. Peter (Greg Hildreth) and Susan (Rashidra Scott) seem to have the perfect marriage, until perfection proves impossible. Sophisticated David (Christopher Fitzgerald) and his square wife Jenny (Nikki Renée Daniels) can’t wrap their heads around Bobbie’s perpetually single status and aren’t shy about expressing their concern. All while Bobbie juggles three men: Andy (nee “April,” played by Claybourne Elder), the sexy flight attendant, Theo (nee “Kathy,” casting to be announced), the small-town boy trying to find his way in the city, and P.J. (nee “Marta,” played by Bobby Conte Thornton), the native New Yorker who’s head-over-heels for his hometown.

The creative team for Company includes Liam Steel (choreography), Joel Fram (musical supervisor), Bunny Christie (set and costume design), Neil Austin (lighting design), Ian Dickinson (sound design), David Cullen (orchestrations), Sam Davis (dance arrangements), Chris Fisher (illusions), Campbell Young Associates (hair, wig, and makeup design), and Cindy Tolan (casting).

Company was in sell-out preview performances when on Thursday, March 12, 2020, the COVID-19 crisis forced the shutdown of all Broadway theaters.

Company is produced on Broadway by Elliott & Harper Productions, The Shubert Organization, Catherine Schreiber, Nederlander Presentations, Inc., Crossroads Live, Annapurna Productions, Hunter Arnold, No Guarantees, Jon B. Platt, Michael Watt, John Gore Organization, Tim Levy, Grove•Reg, Hornos•Moellenberg, Being Alive Productions/ Ben Lowy, LD Entertainment/MWM Live, Daryl Roth/Tom Tuff, Salmira Productions/Caiola Productions, Adler•Federman•Levine, Aged in Wood/Lee•Sachs, Beard•Merrie•Robbins, Berinstein•Lane /42nd. club, Boyett•Miller/Drew Hodges, Finn•DeVito/Independent Presenters Network, Armstrong•Ross/Gilad•Rogowsky, Boardman•Koenigsberg/Zell•Seriff, Concord Theatricals•Sanders Productions/ Abrams•May, DeRoy•Brunish/Jenen•Rubin, Fakston Productions/ Sabi•Lerner•Ketner, Maggio•Abrams/Hopkins•Tackel and Jujamcyn Theaters.

State Approvals

The anticipated return of Broadway performances is subject to the approval of the NY State Department of Health and the Governor based on the continuing growth of the fully vaccinated population, coupled with an ongoing decline in total Covid 19 cases and positivity rates.

The Department of Health and the Governor will review and approve health protocols in the theater established by the theater owner to assure that the highest safety standards are in place.

Safety Protocols

Broadway is committed to providing healthy and safe facilities for audiences, performers, and staff. Based on CDC and New York State guidelines at the time of performance, protocols may include mask enforcement, vaccination, or negative test verification, and more as developed by the theater owners in conjunction with the State.

New protective systems – including sanitization and filtration requirements – will be implemented by the theater to align with federal and state recommendations, and if any regulations change, the theater will follow state, and federal guidelines to maintain safety for all. 

Company announces new broadway dates and additional casting

Company

Today, producers of the upcoming revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s landmark American musical Company, under the direction of two-time Tony Award® winner Marianne Elliott, announced that the visionary award-winning new production will now begin performances one month earlier than previously scheduled with preview performances resuming on Monday, November 15 ahead of a Thursday, December 9 opening night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street).

Tony Award winner Katrina Lenk and two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone will be joined by returning Broadway cast members Matt Doyle as Jamie, three-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Fitzgerald as David,  two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber as Harry, Tony Award nominee Jennifer Simard as Sarah, Terence Archie as Larry, Grammy Award winner Etai Benson as Paul, Nikki Renée Daniels as Jenny, Claybourne Elder as Andy, Greg Hildreth as Peter, Rashidra Scott as Susan, and Bobby Conte Thornton as P.J. The complete cast of Company also includes Kathryn AllisonBritney ColemanJavier IgnacioAnisha NagarajanTally Sessions, and Matt Wall. Casting for the role of Theo will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets are available at www.companymusical.comwww.telecharge.com, or by calling 800 447 7400. As part of the “Buy With Confidence” ticketing policy, ticket holders who wish to exchange for these earlier performances can contact their point of sale to reschedule.

Director Marianne Elliott said, “We always wanted to bring Company back as soon as possible and when the opportunity was presented to start performances a month earlier, we knew we had to jump on it. This production has always been about bringing people together to share in laughter, joy, and friendship and I’m beyond thrilled that we are able to reunite almost all of our remarkable cast to make this happen.”

Producer Chris Harper said, “There were 135 people working on Company when the shutdown happened. Knowing that this many people are counting on the show coming back as soon as possible has been a huge motivator for us. So, when the schedules of a number of key creative team members made this possible, it was a no brainer. We had to make it happen. This is a musical about the one thing we have all been missing  company –so to be back on Broadway even sooner feels great.”

Company, the musical comedy masterpiece about the search for love and cocktails in the Big Apple is turned on its head in Elliott’s revelatory staging, in which musical theatre’s most iconic bachelor becomes a bachelorette. At Bobbie’s (Lenk) 35th birthday party, all her friends are wondering why isn’t she married? Why can’t she find the right man?  And, why can’t she settle down and have a family?  This whip smart musical comedy, given a game-changing makeover for a modern-day Manhattan, features some of Sondheim’s best loved songs, including “Company,” “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Side by Side,” and the iconic “Being Alive.”

Sondheim and Elliott have collaborated to update this masterpiece, bringing Bobbie’s array of friends and lovers unswervingly into the 21st century: Paul (Etai Benson) is waiting patiently for his fiancée Jamie (nee “Amy,” played by Matt Doyle) to get over his increasingly frantic wedding day jitters. Sarah (Jennifer Simard) struggles with her body image while her husband Harry (Christopher Sieber) struggles with sobriety – their marital tensions bubbling just under the surface. Joanne (Patti LuPone) is taking a third try at marriage with Larry (Terence Archie), the object of his wife’s affections … and savage barbs. Peter (Greg Hildreth) and Susan (Rashidra Scott) seem to have the perfect marriage, until perfection proves impossible. Sophisticated David (Christopher Fitzgerald) and his square wife Jenny (Nikki Renée Daniels) can’t wrap their heads around Bobbie’s perpetually single status and aren’t shy about expressing their concern. All while Bobbie juggles three men: Andy (nee “April,” played by Claybourne Elder), the sexy flight attendant, Theo (nee “Kathy,” casting to be announced), the small-town boy trying to find his way in the city, and P.J. (nee “Marta,” played by Bobby Conte Thornton), the native New Yorker who’s head-over-heels for his hometown.

The creative team for Company includes Liam Steel (choreography), Joel Fram (musical supervisor), Bunny Christie (set and costume design), Neil Austin (lighting design), Ian Dickinson (sound design), David Cullen (orchestrations), Sam Davis (dance arrangements), Chris Fisher (illusions), Campbell Young Associates (hair, wig, and makeup design), and Cindy Tolan (casting).

Company was in sell-out preview performances when on Thursday, March 12, 2020, the COVID-19 crisis forced the shutdown of all Broadway theaters.

Company is produced on Broadway by Elliott & Harper Productions, The Shubert Organization, Catherine Schreiber, Nederlander Presentations, Inc., Crossroads Live, Annapurna Productions, Hunter Arnold, No Guarantees, Jon B. Platt, Michael Watt, John Gore Organization, Tim Levy, Grove•Reg, Hornos•Moellenberg, Being Alive Productions/ Ben Lowy, LD Entertainment/MWM Live, Daryl Roth/Tom Tuff, Salmira Productions/Caiola Productions, Adler•Federman•Levine, Aged in Wood/Lee•Sachs, Beard•Merrie•Robbins, Berinstein•Lane /42nd. club, Boyett•Miller/Drew Hodges, Finn•DeVito/Independent Presenters Network, Armstrong•Ross/Gilad•Rogowsky, Boardman•Koenigsberg/Zell•Seriff, Concord Theatricals•Sanders Productions/ Abrams•May, DeRoy•Brunish/Jenen•Rubin, Fakston Productions/ Sabi•Lerner•Ketner, Maggio•Abrams/Hopkins•Tackel and Jujamcyn Theaters.