What Is the Story of Sondheim on Sondheim?
Strung together with songs both obscure and famous, Sondheim on Sondheim explores the life and creative process of its namesake composer, Stephen Sondheim, in the genius’ own words. Through the use of intimate interviews with its subject, the production shines new light on pieces of the artist’s autobiography, including his childhood, his relationship with mentor Oscar Hammerstein and stories of personal demons and professional triumphs. The show mostly focuses on his how he created the shows Broadway knows and loves today.
"Nothing quite tops other cast members sitting quietly on stage and listening to Barbara Cook sing 'Send in the Clowns.' Cook's exquisite rendition of Sondheim's best-known song demonstrates the essence of musical theater: an expert performer capturing the emotional truth found in a perfect blending of words and music."Review by Michael Kuchwara from Associated Press
"Sondheim on Sondheim confirms enchantingly what we already know but can gladly bear such eloquent repeating of: that Sondheim is the best composer-lyricist we’ve got. To have it incarnated on Broadway by a cast headed by Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and five personable others leaves us, after two-and-a-half hours, only hungry for more."Review by John Simon from Bloomberg News
What Is Sondheim on Sondheim Like?
This is a musical revue of the composer/lyricist’s life and process. As the biography pieces unfurls via video screens, the master’s songs are performed to comment upon or illustrate certain moments, creating a more complete picture of the artist than the one fans might. This is not to say that Sondheim on Sondheim is a history lesson crammed with facts (though the production does present a number of songs even the most die-hard Sondheim aficionados won’t know). On the contrary, the show breezes by, leaning heavily on the strength of its top-notch music and tight eight-person ensemble. The revue delivers the required number of laughs, but audiences will be most delighted by its moments of poignancy and the intimate flashes of the man behind the piles of sheet music and accolades.
Is Sondheim on Sondheim Good for Kids?
Sondheim on Sondheim is basically a bio-musical, so it is very accessible. The show’s songs often focus on adult subjects (love, loss, sex, family, creativity, etc), but taken from their individual shows and placed center stage, the music can easily be enjoyed by younger viewers who typically wouldn’t be able to stomach, say, the intimacy issues in Company, and the language remains—except for a few f-bombs, including a memorable one attributed to Ethel Merman. Sondheim on Sondheim is an excellent primer-course for ‘tween musical theater fans, and a graduate-level treat for students who’ve been studying him for decades.