You may never have heard of Stephen Sondheim but I assure you, you’ve heard his music. The award-winning Broadway hit Sondheim on Sondheim is more than just a multimedia portrait of a musical icon; it’s an autobiography come to life.
Sondheim on Sondheim was originally conceived as a tribute for Sondheim’s 80th birthday by James Lapine with whom he collaborated with most. However, it feels more like an intimate gathering in which you can meet a composer and lyricist who is widely regarded as one of the most important of the 20th century and is said to have changed the way we define a great musical.
While we seldom pay attention to projection, scenic, and lighting design, in this case Gil Kaufman, Eric Nelson, and Tim Bennet are as much of the cast as the eight singers because this is a multimedia production which combines an onstage chamber orchestra, singers, and Sondheim’s intimate footage. The stage design, very simple enlarged sheet music as the backdrop to the orchestra, elicits emotions through the precise lighting choices that highlight the lyrics and words of Sondheim.
Who is Stephen Sondheim? Besides being an Academy Award, Tony Awards, and Grammy Awards winner, Sondheim has written lyrics for productions you know, such as, Company, Follies, Sweeny Todd, Assasins, Into the Woods, and West Side Story. He is also a complex creative individual with a dark past and knows a thing or two about reaching a dream. The victim of a broken marriage, coming to terms with his sexuality and feelings of abandonment from a cruel mother, Sondheim expresses himself best- “I like neurotic people- I’m neurotic”.
Why should you care to go see Actors’ Playhouse production of Sondheim on Sondheim? Simply, because the music is absolutely beautiful. But at a more in depth look, because we can all relate to a little confusion, creative blocks, and dysfunction. Sondheim speaks, on exclusive video footage which is displayed on three huge screens, candidly about his failures. And so, if not only for the inspiration that comes from amazingly composed songs with the most heart-wrenching lyrics, then for the inspiration that comes from watching him explain his creative processes and how he overcame adversity.
Some cautions and necessary information: There were some logistical issues with the sound and microphone of one of the singers. There is also some adult content and language that may be too strong for the youngest children. The show runs through the rest of the week, until April 3, 2016, with evening performances Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 PM, and an afternoon matinee on Sunday at 3:00 PM. For ticket purchases call (305) 444-9293 or online at www.actorsplayhouse.org.