A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration. Lyrics & Lyricists , 92Y
Photos courtesy of 92Y
by Joel Benjamin
The 92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists
series shined its impressive lights on the six musical collaborations between
Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince that began hopefully with the stingingly
insightful Company (1970) and ended with the disappointing disaster of Merrily
We Roll Along (1981). David Loud, an actor, singer, musician
and writer, who made his Broadway debut in Merrily was the smart host
whose personal experiences enhanced what might have been a catalog show.
Even a Steve Sondheim catalog show, however brilliant the songs are, needs
organizing, careful curating and some spark of excitement. Here Mr. Loud
was helped by his stage director Noah Racey and music director Joseph Thalken
who led the six-member ensemble, dubbed the “Sondheim Symphony Orchestra” in
richly witty arrangements.
Six fine singers skillfully, if
not brilliantly, sang the more than twenty numbers. After the
opening “Good Things Going” from Merrily, the show traveled
chronologically through the musicals with Company represented by a
smooth “Company,” followed by such songs as the mordantly sad “Sorry-Grateful”
sung by James Clow, Jason Danieley and Jeremy Jordan and the manic portrait of
insecurity “Getting Married Today” sung by Kate Baldwin, Liz Callaway and Mr.
Danieley. “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” was given the glossy nightclub
treatment by Ms. Baldwin.
From the exquisite Follies,
the sampling included a series of solos: Heidi Blickenstaff’s heartfelt
“Losing My Mind”; Ms. Baldwin’s tart “Could I Leave You”; and Jeremy Jordan’s
youthful look at “The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues.”
The highlight of the A Little
Night Music section was Ms. Callaway’s breathtaking “Send In the Clowns”
which was followed by the spirited “A Weekend In the Country” sung by the
Why Mr. Loud chose three downbeat
songs from Pacific Overtures and not “Someone In a Tree” is a mystery,
probably having its roots in limited rehearsal time. The three numbers
didn’t capture the full dynamic range of this unique and colorful show, but
were smoothly sung.
The Sweeney Todd: The Demon
Barber of Fleet Street chapter began with a tensely sung “The Ballad of
Sweeney Todd” followed by Mr. Danieley’s luxuriously sung “Johanna” and Ms.
Blickenstaff & Mr. Clow’s lip-smacking “A Little Priest,” the funniest show
of the evening.
The Merrily We Roll Along
section was the most involving because of Mr. Loud’s blow-by-blow description
of how the show was assembled and all the mistakes along the way: the
constant changes, the firings and the overall confusion of a cast of young
performers trying to act middle aged.
Liz Callaway, who also was in the
original cast, sang a medley of “Old Friends” and “Now You Know.”
The program ended with a really
beautiful staged “Our Time” in which each singer reprised previously sung solos
all of which meshed hauntingly with that song. This was pure genius.
There are several Lyrics &
Lyricist programs coming up quickly. Don’t miss them.
92Y Lyrics & Lyricists
92nd St. Y
1395 Lexington Ave. between 91st
& 92nd St.
New York, NY
Tickets: 212-415-5500 or www.92Y.org/lyrics