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Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince, Old Friends/Now You Know

“Putting together an evening of Sondheim material has become almost impossible,” explained David Loud, who just put together an evening of Sondheim songs — some of the most melodious the composer has ever written. But Loud, the artistic director of Lyrics and Lyricists at the 92nd Street Y , decided to focus just on Sondheim’s collaborations with producer and director Harold Prince.

There were practical and personal reasons for this — and aesthetic as well.  “A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration,” which ran last weekend, made for an enlightening concert,  performed by a six-piece band and sung by a sextet of sexy and accomplished Broadway belters and cabaret crooners:

The title for the concert came from one of the songs from “Merrily We Roll Along” the last and least successful of the six shows on which Sondheim and Prince collaborated between 1970 and 1981 — in order, “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Sweeney Todd” and finally, “Merrily We Roll Along.” But Loud, as it turns out, was cast in the 1981 Broadway production when he was still a college student — a production that lasted only 16 performances.

What was most revealing about the concert was how much it gave the lie to one of the usual charges against Sondheim — that his songs are unhummable, or can’t be taken out of context. On the other hand, I am now eager to see “Pacific Overtures,” the only one of the six musicals I haven’t seen in its entirety.

The stand-out performance for me was by Liz Callaway as the nervous bride in “Getting Married Today.” She jumped off the stage and confided to us, her audience, before climbing — awkwardly, laboriously, and hilariously, back into the stage.

Playlist:

From Merrily We Roll Along
Good Thing Going (sung by Jason Danieley)

From Company (Opened on Broadway April 26, 1970)
Company (full cast)
Another Hundred People (Heidi Blickenstaff)
Sorry-Grateful (James Clow, Jason Danieley, Jeremy Jordan)
Getting Married Today (Kate Baldwin, Jason Danieley, Kate Baldwin)
Being Alive (Jeremy Jordan)

From Follies (April 4, 1971)
Beautiful Girls (Jason Danieley)
Losing My Mind (Heidi Blickenstaff)
Could I Leave You (Kate Baldwin)
The God-why-don’t-you-love-me Blues (Jeremy Jordan)

From A Little Night Music (February 25, 1973)
Remember? (Most of the cast)
Send in the Clowns (Liz Callaway)
A Weekend in the Country (Cast)

From A Pacific Overtures (January 11, 1976)
The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Seas (Cast)
Poems (Jeremy Jordan and Jason Danieley)
Pretty Lady (Jason Danieley, Jeremy Jordan, James Clow)

From Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (March 1, 1979)
The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (Cast)
Johanna (Jason Danieley)
A Little Priest (Heidi Blickenstaff and James Clow)

From Merrily We Roll Along (November 16, 1981)
The Hills of Tomorrow (Kate Baldwin)
Old Friends/Now You Know (Liz Callaway)
Not A Day Goes By (Heidi Blickenstaff)
Our Time (Cast)

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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