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Videos & Photos released from “Take Me To The World: a virtual concert celebrating Sondheim’s 90th birthday” On Broadway.Com & Youtube

Photo Credit: Broadway.com

Video highlights, photos, and program notes have been released from last night’s all-star special virtual concert celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th Birthday, “Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration.” The concert, a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), was broadcast on the theater world’s premier online content provider, Broadway.com and the Broadway.com YouTube channel and will be made available for viewing and donations to ASTEP will be continued to be accepted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A92wZIvEUAw

 The free online event, produced by Raúl Esparza, took place on the exact 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical Company (the original production debuted on Broadway on April 26, 1970). Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell was the evening’s music director, with Paul Wontorek serving as director.

 Video clips courtesy of Broadway.com are available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1z4rb8mju94mwoa/AADMLinG5M_p0JJkyIU6yGFDa?dl=0

Photos courtesy of Broadway.com are available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/nhn82gz0vudzv04/AABzWylz4gBw2cjgZa_4j8sAa?dl=0

The show’s program featured:

 Stephen Schwartz – “Prologue” (Follies)

Broadway Musicians – “Overture”

Sutton Foster with Emily Griffin – “ There Won’t Be Trumpets” (Anyone Can Whistle)

Neil Patrick Harris with Gideon Burtka-Harris and Harper Burtka-Harris – “The Witch’s Rap” (Into The Woods)

Kelli O’Hara – “What More Do I Need” (Saturday Night)

Judy Kuhn – “What Can You Lose” (Dick Tracy)

Victor Garber – Tribute to Sondheim

Katrina Lenk – “Johanna” (Sweeney Todd)

Aaron Tveit – “Marry Me A Little” (Company)

Iain Armitage – Plea to donate to ASTEP

Beanie Feldstein & Ben Platt – “It Takes Two” (Into The Woods)

Brandon Uranowitz – “With So Little to Be Sure Of” (Anyone Can Whistle)

Mary-Mitchell Campbell & Priyanka Patil – Plea to donate to ASTEP

Melissa Errico – “Children and Art” (Sunday in the Park with George)

Randy Rainbow – “By The Sea” (Sweeney Todd)

Elizabeth Stanley – “The Miller’s Son” (A Little Night Music)

Mandy Patinkin – “Lesson #8” (Sunday in the Park with George)

Steven Spielberg – Tribute to Sondheim

Maria Friedman – “Broadway Baby” (Follies)

Lin-Manuel Miranda – “Giants in the Sky” (Into The Woods)

Lonny Price – Tribute to Sondheim

Lea Salonga – “Loving You” (Passion)

Laura Benanti – “I Remember” (Evening Primrose)

Raúl Esparza – Plea to donate to ASTEP

Chip Zien – “No More” (Into The Woods)

Joanna Gleason – Tribute to Sondheim

Josh Groban – “Children Will Listen” (Into the Woods) / “Not While I’m Around” (Sweeney Todd)

John Weidman – Tribute to Sondheim

Brian Stokes Mitchell – “The Flag Song“ (Assassins)

Michael Cerveris – “Finishing The Hat” (Sunday in the Park with George)

Jason Alexander – Tribute to Sondheim

Linda Lavin – “The Boy From…” (The Mad Show)

Elizabeth Stanley – Plea to donate to ASTEP

Alexander Gemignani – “Buddy’s Blues” (Follies)

Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh, and Thom Sesma – “Someone in a Tree” (Pacific Overtures)

Nathan Lane – Tribute to Sondheim

Lin-Manuel Miranda – Plea to donate to ASTEP

Raúl Esparza – “Take Me To The World” (Evening Primrose)

Donna Murphy – “Send in the Clowns” (A Little Night Music)

Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, & Meryl Streep – “The Ladies Who Lunch” (Company)

Annaleigh Ashford & Jake Gyllenhaal – “Move On” (Sunday in the Park with George)

Patti LuPone – “Anyone Can Whistle” (Anyone Can Whistle)

Bernadette Peters – “No One is Alone” (Into The Woods)

Members of the Broadway Community – “I’m Still Here” (Follies)

 ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty) is an organization conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.

Streep, LuPone, Peters, Mcdonald, And Many More Set For “Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90Th Birthday Celebration” – Live Sunday, 4-26 On Broadway.Com

Take Me To The World

 An all-star company will perform in a special virtual concert in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th Birthday, “Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration”, this Sunday, April 26 at 8:00 PM ET on the theater world’s premier online content provider, Broadway.com and the Broadway.com YouTube channel. The free online event, hosted by Raúl Esparza, is set to take place on the exact 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical Company (the original production debuted on Broadway on April 26, 1970).

This once-in-a-lifetime event will include songs of inspiration from the Sondheim catalog featuring performances from many of the artists who delivered iconic turns in his shows, including Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Iain Armitage, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephen Schwartz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani and, from the cast of Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage Company, Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma.

 The evening’s host and producer Raúl Esparza starred as Bobby in the highly acclaimed, Tony Award-winning revival of Company in 2006, and in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sunday in the Park (George) and Merrily We Roll Along (Charlie) in 2002, as well as the City Center Encores! production of Anyone Can Whistle (Hapgood) and, most recently, in last year’s Road Show (Wilson).

Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell is the evening’s music director, with Paul Wontorek serving as director.

 “The world is in a hard place, and we are all searching for something great. Well, Stephen Sondheim is greatness personified. So, we’ve assembled a group of people who love Steve and have worked with Steve and have been inspired by Steve to sing his music and share some joy and some heartache together,” said Esparza. “We may be far from Broadway right now, but Broadway is never far from us. Besides, Stephen Sondheim turned 90. How many times do you get to be 90? 11?  So come on, say it, get it over with, come on, quick…happy birthday.”

This special online event will act as a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), the organization conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.

“Sondheim shows us the depth of our hearts, the complexity of our minds, and all that it is possible to accomplish through his brilliant marriage of music and storytelling,” Mary-Mitchell Campbell added. “Artists Striving to End Poverty aims to make sure that all children living in challenging situations have the opportunity to be transformed by the making of art. In my personal experience, encountering Stephen Sondheim’s music has helped these children imagine an entirely different life and future for themselves. Linking Sondheim and ASTEP together during this very difficult time made perfect sense to us. Children and art.”

Sondheim & Furth’s “Company” completes principal casting, Rashidra Scott to play the role of Susan

Rashidra Scott

Elliott & Harper Productions and The Shubert Organization announced today that Rashidra Scott will play the role of Susan and completes principal casting in the visionary new production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s landmark American musical, Company, directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Marianne Elliott starring Tony and Grammy Award® winner Katrina Lenk as Bobbie and two-time Tony Award and two-time Grammy Award winner Patti LuPone as Joanne.

Scott as Susan will appear opposite Greg Hildreth as Peter, the couple that seems to have the perfect marriage, until perfection proves impossible. Scott joins Company directly from the hit musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations where she plays the role of Josephine.

The full principal cast for Company also 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, Kyle Dean Massey as Theo, and Bobby Conte Thornton as P.J. Casting for the ensemble of Company will be announced in the coming weeks.

The quintessential musical comedy about the search for love and cocktails in the Big Apple is turned on its head in Elliott’s revelatory staging, in which musical theater’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, 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.”

Company will begin performances on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street) on Monday, March 2, 2020 with an official opening night set for Sunday, March 22, 2020 (Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday). 

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 is produced on Broadway by Elliott & Harper Productions and The Shubert Organization, with Catherine SchreiberTim Levy serves as Executive Producer. 

Tickets for Company are available by visiting www.telecharge.com or calling 212 239 6200. For more informationplease visit www.companymusical.com.

Nottingham Playhouse / The Watermill Theatre – Assassins – Casting announced

Assassins

“Murder is a tawdry little crime. But when a president gets killed, when Julius Caesar got killed… he gets assassinated.”

A man sits in a storeroom on the sixth floor of a Book Depository in Texas in 1963, waiting for John F Kennedy’s motorcade to pass below. He rests his finger on the trigger, ready to join a line of men and women who have shot their way into the history books.

Full casting has been announced for The Watermill Theatre’s / Nottingham Playhouse forthcoming co-production of Assassins.

Stephen Sondheim’s multi-Tony award-winning razor-sharp musical is a satirical and stylish look at why individuals reach for a gun when they feel their voice can’t be heard. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to perform harrowing acts.  Assassins is a musical about the power of the President, the lure of celebrity and the failure of the American Dream.

The show is directed by Bill Buckhurst, whose previous work includes his phenomenally successful multi-award winning production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which began life at Tooting Arts Club, subsequently transferred to the West End and then went on to New York where it received a rapturous reception.  Last autumn he won universal acclaim at Nottingham Playhouse for his production of Coleman and Field’s Sweet Charity, which starred Rebecca Trehearn, who herself is currently starring in Kiss Me, Kate at The Watermill Theatre. In 2016 Buckhurst received rave reviews for his production of Rufus Norris’s Sleeping Beauty at The Watermill Theatre.

Assassins will star Alex Mugnaioni (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – West End/tour, Twelfth Night and The Taming of The Shrew – Shakespeare’s Globe) as John Wilkes Booth, Peter Dukes (Brief Encounter – West End / Kneehigh, She Loves Me – Menier Chocolate Factory) as Leon Czolgosz,  Evelyn Hoskins (Cruel Intentions – Bill Kenwright / Edinburgh Fringe, Mayfly – Orange Tree Theatre) as Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme and Jack Quarton (Wonderland – Nottingham Playhouse, Great Expectations – Derby Theatre) as John Hinckley. Also starring are Ned Rudkins-Stow (Robin Hood – Watermill Theatre, Twelfth Night – Wilton’s Music Hall as Lee Harvey Oswald, Joey Hickman (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Southwark Playhouse, A Midsummer Nights Dream – Watermill Theatre) as The Proprietor and Phoebe Fildes (A Woman of No Importance – West End, A Little Night Music – The Watermill Theatre) as Emma Goldman.  Eddie Elliott  (Spamilton – Menier Chocolate Factory, Motown the Musical – West End) is cast as Charles Guiteau,  Lillie Flynn (Twelfth Night – Wilton’s Music Hall, Sunny Afternoon – West End) as the Balladeer, Sara Poyzer(Billy Elliot – West End, Mama Mia –  West End) as Sara Jane Moore, Steve Simmonds (Tommy – New Wolsey / Ramps on the Moon, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – West End / Chichester Festival Theatre) as Samuel Byck and Zheng Xi Yong (Miss Saigon – UK & International Tour) as Giuseppe Zangara. The ensemble will be made up of Grace LancasterMatthew James Hinchliffe and Simon Oskarsson.

LISTINGS INFORMATION
ASSASSINS
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Assassins is based on an idea by Charles Gilbert Jr
Original orchestrations by Michael Starobin
Playwrights Horizons Inc., New York City, produced Assassins off-Broadway in 1990
First Broadway production, 2004, Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Artistic Director
Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited

Director Bill Buckhurst
Designer Simon Kenny
Musical Supervisor and Arrangements Catherine Jayes
Associate Director and Choreographer Georgina Lamb
Lighting Designer Ben Ormerod,
Sound Designer Chris Full


The Watermill Theatre,
Bagnor, Newbury RG20 8AE
Tickets: Online: www.watermill.org.uk
Box Office: 01635 46044
Dates: 
Thursday 26 September – Saturday 26 October
Press Night: Monday 30 September 7.30pm
Times: Evening performances at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.
Ticket prices:  £33.00 – £16.00 (ticket prices vary per performance)

Nottingham Playhouse,
Wellington Circus, Nottingham, NG1 5AF
Tickets: Online www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk
Box Office: 01159 419419
Dates: Wednesday 30 October – Saturday 16 November
Press Night: Thursday 31 October 7.00pm
Times: Evening performances at 7.30pm,
Matinees – Thursday 7 November – 1.30pm, Saturday 9 & 16 – 2.30pm.
Ticket prices:  £45.00 – £8.50 (ticket prices vary per performance)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford in Sunday in the Park with George at the Savoy Theatre, London from June 2020

Photo credit Matthew Murphy]

Ambassador Theatre Group Productions, Riva Marker and Jeanine Tesori in association with New York City Center have announced that tickets go on sale today for a strictly limited season of Sunday in the Park with George starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford and directed by Sarna Lapine, at the Savoy Theatre. Preview performances will begin on 11th June 2020. Official opening night to be confirmed.

Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece follows painter Georges Seurat (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting – A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Consumed by his need to “finish the hat”, Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists, and neglects his lover Dot (Annaleigh Ashford), not realising that his actions will reverberate for the next 100 years.

This beautiful production began at New York City Center, it then transferred for a sold-out limited season at Hudson Theater on Broadway where it was met with universal critical and public acclaim.

Jake Gyllenhaal said: “Performing Sunday in the Park with George with the brilliant Annaleigh Ashford was one of the greatest joys of my career, I’ve also deeply missed the West End and so to be bringing Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical there alongside Annaleigh is both humbling and thrilling.”

Annaleigh Ashford said: “Sharing the masterpiece that is Sunday in the Park with George with audiences, has been one of the greatest pleasures of my artistic life. It is an honour to play Dot again with genius Jake Gyllenhaal and to tell this story of children and art to the great city of London.”

James Lapine & Stephen Sondheim said “We are thrilled that a London audience will get to see the recent Broadway production ofSunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford reprising their extraordinary performances. We also look forward to seeing them joined by a terrific British company.” 

Sunday in the Park with George was originally produced on Broadway by Ambassador Theatre Group, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Caiola Productions, Jeffrey Finn, Jere Harris and Darren Deverna, J/K/R/S, Claire-Bridget Kenwright, LD Entertainment, Benjamin Lowy Productions, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Jeanine Tesori, Riva Marker, in association with New York City Center (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO), and Adam Speers – Executive Producer for ATG.

The official opening night and full casting will be announced in due course.

Jake Gyllenhaal will be appearing in Sea Wall / A Life alongside Tom Sturridge for a limited engagement at Hudson Theater on Broadway from July 26th to September 29th.

The 2017 Broadway Cast Recording featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford is available to buy, download and stream now.  https://lnk.to/SundayLondonPR

 

LISTINGS

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE

By Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine

Savoy Theatre
Savoy Court, London WC2R 0ET

First performance: 11th June 2020 at 7.30pm
Final performance: 5
th September 2020 at 7.30pm

Performance schedule: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Box office details
www.sundayinthepark.co.uk
0844 871 7687
Prices from £25 (preview prices available)

T: @SundayWestEnd | I: @sundaywestend  | F: /SundayWestEnd

Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in The Park With George moves to the Savoy London in June 2020 for a limited 16 week run

Sunday In The Park With George

Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford star in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Sunday in the Park with George is coming to London for a strictly limited 16 week run at the Savoy Theatre from June 2020.

One of the most acclaimed musicals of all time – Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece follows painter Georges Seurat (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Consumed by his need to ‘finish the hat,’ Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists, and neglects his lover Dot (Annaleigh Ashford), not realizing that his actions will reverberate over the next 100 years.

Originating at New York City Centre, the subsequent transfer dazzled audiences and praised by critics, was one of the fastest selling musicals on Broadway. Destined to be the theatrical event of 2020 – be there to witness the musical about the art of making art – this is not your ordinary Sunday.

‘Destined to be forever spoken of with misty-eyed bragging rights by anyone who sees it.’
Ben Brantley, The New York Times

‘GENIUS! This fervent, enticing production reveals something all-too-rare: an abiding faith in the powers of art’
The Wall Street Journal

‘Jake Gyllenhaal is radiant. His searing theatrical presence and unwavering focus seems to consume and illuminate the dark. He has a voice of richly flexible timbre that confidently elicits the most delicate shades of passion and despair.’
The New York Times

‘Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford are breathtakingly good’
Deadline

 

 

2018 Follies Cast Recording now available at the NT Bookshop

Follies

Following the final performance of Follies in the Olivier on 11 May, the National Theatre announces the CD release of Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical Follies – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording this Friday, 17 May.

Following its 2018 Olivier Award wins for Best Musical Revival and Best Costume Design and a sold out run at the National Theatre, this critically acclaimed production of Follies releases its much-anticipated London Cast Recording. Including musical hits such as I’m Still HereBroadway Baby and Losing My Mind.

Follies tells the story of the former performers of Weismann’s Follies, reunited for the first time in their theatre which is to be demolished the next day. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves.

Director of Follies and Associate of the National Theatre Dominic Cooke said:

“Directing Follies has been a privilege. It is a heart-breaking, universal piece and the National Theatre committed epic resources to realise it. The original company gave detailed, powerful performances and I’m delighted that we managed to record them for listeners to appreciate Stephen Sondheim’s peerless score, just as I was working with an equally brilliant cast on the Olivier revival.”

FOLLIES – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording was recorded at RAK Studios in London with world-renowned producer Nigel Wright, conducted by Olivier Nominee Nigel Lilley and mixed by SMP Studios, Buckinghamshire. The soundtrack cast includes Julie Armstrong, Norma Attallah, Josephine Barstow, Jeremy Batt, Tracie Bennett, Di Botcher, Billy Boyle, Janie Dee, Anouska Eaton, Liz Ewing, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Peter Forbes, Emily Goodenough, Bruce Graham, Adrian Grove, Fred Haig, Aimee Hodnett, Dawn Hope, Liz Izen, Alison Langer, Emily Langham, Sarah-Marie Maxwell, Ian McLarnon, Leisha Mollyneux, Gemma Page, Kate Parr, Philip Quast, Edwin Ray, Gary Raymond, Adam Rhys-Charles, Jordan Shaw, Imelda Staunton, Zizi Strallen, Barnaby Thompson, Christine Tucker, Michael Vinsen and Alex Young.

FOLLIES Track Listing

  1. Prologue
  2. Beautiful Girls
  3. Don’t Look At Me
  4. Waiting For The Girls Upstairs
  5. Rain On The Roof / Ah, Paris! / Broadway Baby (Medley)
  6. The Road You Didn’t Take
  7. In Buddy’s Eyes
  8. Who’s That Woman?
  9. I’m Still Here
  10. Too Many Mornings
  11. The Right Girl
  12. One More Kiss
  13. Could I Leave You?
  14. Loveland
  15. You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow / Love Will See Us Through (Medley)
  16. Buddy’s Blues
  17. Losing My Mind
  18. The Story Of Lucy and Jessie
  19. Live, Laugh, Love
  20. End of Show

FOLLIES – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording is also available across digital download and streaming accounts now. Download and streaming link can be found HERE.

Broadway’s WEST SIDE STORY to Premiere in Groundbreaking StageAround in Tokyo in Fall 2019

 A new StageAround production of the legendary musical West Side Story will debut at IHI Stage AroundTokyo, Japan in August 2019.

West Side Story, a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim based on a conception of Jerome Robbins, will be directed by David Saint with choreography restaged by Julio Monge, who recently staged an outdoor production of West Side Story in Sydney, Australia.

The team of Broadway designers includes three-time Tony Award Nominee Anna Louizos (sets), Tony Award winner Ken Billington (lighting), Lisa Zinni (costumes), and 59 Productions (projection design).  David Saint also services as a consultant to a new film version of West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg.

Producer Robin de Levita created the StageAround staging concept for the musical phenomenon Soldier of Orange in the Netherlands, which he co-produced with NEW Productions; to date the longest running production in Dutch history, selling out every performance since opening to critical acclaim in 2010.

A London production of Soldier of Orange was recently announced to open in 2020.

StageAround (also known as SceneAround) is a unique staging technology where the audience is seated on a rotating auditorium. The auditorium moves from fully realized set to set while surrounding curved projection screens frame each setting.

Robin de Levita said, “West Side Story is without doubt one of the great masterpieces of musical theater of all time and lends itself extremely well to be re-created in the StageAround staging concept.”

In 2012 Robin de Levita founded Imagine Nation together with Kees Abrahams and in 2013 the construction of a purpose-built theater, Theater Amsterdam. That theater opened with the play ANNE, based on the life of Anne Frank, which is now the longest running play in Dutch history.

In 2013 Tokyo Broadcasting System Television joined forces with Imagine Nation to build a brand new StageAround theater in the heart of Tokyo.  For this venue a completely new StageAround system was engineered and constructed in the Netherlands and delivered to Japan.

West Side Story at IHI Stage Around Tokyo is produced by Tokyo Broadcasting System Television and Imagine Nation.

TBS website (Japanese)

https://www.tbs.co.jp/stagearound/theater/english.html

Imagine Nation website

https://www.imaginenation.nl/

Twitter (Japanese)

https://twitter.com/stage_around

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Bill Deamer: ‘We are not doing a carbon copy; that was that production of Follies and this is a new production of Follies.’

Follies

Choreographer Bill Deamer enters the room. ‘Hello!’ he says cheerily.

Bill Deamer is one of Britain’s leading song and dance men for theatre, film and TV. Last year he bagged himself an Olivier nomination for Best Theatre Choreographer for Follies

Now Dominic Cooke’s production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s masterpiece, is back at the National Theatre. We are talking in the interview room backstage at the National Theatre and Deamer has just been giving notes to the cast of Follies. ‘We now have to let them take the show and run with it,’ he says.

The 2019 Follies Company with Bill Deamer

The 2019 Follies Company with Bill Deamer

It’s tricky, Deamer explains, to reimagine a critically acclaimed musical for the Olivier stage with new cast members in just over a month, yet they have cleared that obstacle with breath-taking ease. ‘We’ve only had four weeks rehearsal whereas we had 9 originally. What you can’t do when you recast is assume the energy is going to be the same.’

It’s not only the cast that has changed since the 2017 production, however. The ensemble brings glorious new touches to the big number choreography; particularly the Mirror Mirror number, in which Dawn Hope leads the cast through a show-stopping musical theatre extravaganza.

FOLLIES 2.0

FOLLIES 2.0

Rehearsals must have been full-on? ‘To learn and create and become the Follies company in four weeks was a tall order, Deamer says. ‘The actors are different, we are not doing a carbon copy; that was that production of Follies and this is a new production of Follies. We’ve looked at certain concepts and developed them even more. The ghosts and how they are in contact with and interact with their older selves have all been developed.’

‘There’s a moment at the beginning of the show, during the Overture and all of a sudden the ghosts realise that they are back and they all gesture to the front,’ he continues. ‘There’s so much power in it, it gives me Gooseflesh talking about it.’

During a recent preview an audience member took a photograph of Joanna Riding performing as her voice cracked during the last lines of Losing My Mind. Follies’ Associate Director, Josh Seymour tweeted his dismay.

He winces when I mention it. ‘Good job Imelda wasn’t there!’ he says. ‘I can’t believe that during one of the most sensitive parts of the show somebody actually pulls a camera out to take a photograph – with a flash on. It’s absurd. Why do people do it? It’s so rude – it is disrespectful to the actors and it disrespectful to the audience.’

Should they have been ejected? ‘Yes.’ Deamer says bemused.

Were they? ‘No. It was such a subtle part of the show it would have disturbed things more to chuck them out,’ he says.

‘I think we all talk about audience etiquette and audience behaviour but it is not made clear enough – when you are recording for TV you hand your phones in. Maybe that is the way to go? I just don’t know.’

We discuss the mythical Follies 2018 Cast Recording that has just finally been released. ‘I’ve heard all of the various productions of Follies that have been recorded and they all have their merits. I think the quality of all of the vocals are quite extraordinary – Stephen Sondheim’s music and Jonathan Tunick’s arrangement just come to life.’

Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding credit: Johan-Persson

Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding credit: Johan-Persson

Does he have a favourite? ‘I have to say that Too Many Mornings breaks my heart; the woodwind, the obo – that wonderful sound. There is something in it that just moves me completely. Hearing Phillip (Quast) and Imelda (Staunton) sing it together is quite extraordinary,’ Deamer says.

The ghosts of those former cast certainly loom over the return of Follies; there are some big tap-shoes to fill. Now though, replacing Staunton as Sally is Joanna Riding and Alexander Hanson takes on the role of Ben. ‘Joanna and Alex are so completely different from their predecessors,’ Deamer says.

‘Jo is so different from Imelda – you couldn’t say that one is better than another; they are completely different. Alex brings such pathos to Ben. I have my amazing memories of working with Imelda and Phillip and now I have my memories of working with Jo and Alex.’

Dawn Hope Stella and the company National Theatre credit: Johan Persson

Dawn Hope Stella and the company National Theatre credit: Johan Persson

‘They are quite wonderful because Dominic and I have worked hard with them and it is all based as it was originally: the director, the designer, the choreographer and the music, we all work as one. So, we had that strength in the rehearsal room.’

Deamer has been a consistently working choreographer for over twenty-five years. His first Olivier nomination was for the critically acclaimed production of The Boy Friend that opened at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2006. He has beavered away across theatre, film and television winning an Olivier Award as Best Choreographer in 2013 for Top Hat, as a musical theatre and Charleston specialist for Strictly Come Dancing.

Bill Deamer and Carl Woodward

Bill Deamer and Carl Woodward

He never stops.

The last thing Deamer wants is to be thought of as, he stresses, a one-style  choreographer. ‘People assume I just do the old-fashioned stuff- which drives me insane. Actually, it is not old fashioned, it is classic. I’ve got Saturday Night Fever out on tour at the moment. I have a production of Evita that’s toured for 11 years around Europe out on the road.’

‘I’m a fully trained dancer and a musical theatre choreographer,’ he shrugs. ‘I trained in classical dance and ballet and jazz and indeed if anyone knows my work on TV with Strictly. For me, pigeonholing any artist is just nonsense.’

Dominic Cooke (Director) and Bill Deamer (Choreographer) in rehearsal for Follies at

Dominic Cooke (Director) and Bill Deamer (Choreographer) in rehearsal for Follies 

What advice does he have for aspiring choreographers? ‘The first thing that I say to any performer is: learn your craft. Get your technique – without that you will not survive. Too many dancers are jack of all trades and master of none and quite simply, it isn’t going to work.’

Our time has come to an end and it’s time for Bill to go.

‘I’m very luck to do what I do – I have worked for it and I’ve learnt my trade. It is wonderful to work with such brilliantly diverse people and create theatre – it feels like such a privilege to be able to work on the various projects that I do; when it doesn’t, I won’t do it,’ he concludes. The words are spoken without a hint of mawkishness, only sincerity. It is all he knows.

Follies is at the Oliver, London until 11 May.

,

FOLLIES IS ON FU*KING ITUNES

Follies

As you well know, the National Theatre executed a surprise, everyone-get-out-of-bed-right-now, fucking-hell-what’s-happening-are-we-all-dead-and-is-this-what-the-afterlife-feels-like album release.

Stephen Sondheim’s FOLLIES – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording is here.

It’s all very exciting.

My thanks for your thoughts at this time and for those who contributed to the trolling of our Royal National Theatre.

But how did I feel at the end of this emotional 12 month dual carriageway?

One word: Overjoyed.

  1. Prologue – 10/10
  2. Beautiful Girls 10/10
  3. Don’t Look At Me 10/10
  4. Waiting For The Girls Upstairs 10/10
  5. Rain On The Roof / Ah, Paris! / Broadway Baby (Medley) 10/10
  6. The Road You Didn’t Take 10/10
  7. In Buddy’s Eyes 10/10
  8. Who’s That Woman? 10/10
  9. I’m Still Here 10/10
  10. Too Many Mornings 10/10
  11. The Right Girl 8/10 (a bit of a racket)
  12. One More Kiss 10/10
  13. Could I Leave You? 10/10
  14. Loveland 8/10 (semi-annoying)
  15. You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow / Love Will See Us Through (Medley) 10/10
  16. Buddy’s Blues 10/10
  17. Losing My Mind 9/10 (Imelda lite)
  18. The Story Of Lucy and Jessie 10/10
  19. Live, Laugh, Love 10/10
  20. End of Show 10/10

Anyway, FOLLIES returns to the National Theatre with previews from 12 February 2019, with many of the original cast including Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Peter Forbes returning to their roles. Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding will join the cast in the roles of Ben and Sally. More information and tickets can be found here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/follies

CD pre-orders will be available ‘soon’ let’s hope it isn’t another year.

Any questions? No? Good. You can buy FOLLIES on Itunes  or stream it right now