Sondheim Farewell on Stage and Page. Broadway 2024: Cabaret, Doubt, Suffs, My Son’s a Queer. #Stageworthy News

So many of the reviews of “Here We Are” end like eulogies for Stephen Sondheim, or feature at least a line of farewell, that these are the passages I find worth quoting, more than the critics’ specific views of the show:

Peter Marks, Washington Post
We’re consoled in “Here We Are” with one more chance to gather together with Sondheim, to hear his irreplaceable voice on a stage…

Sara Holdren, New York Magazine
Sondheim certainly didn’t go gentle into the apocalypse of late capitalism, but he didn’t go heartless either. He stayed complicated. He gave us more to see.

Tim Teeman, Daily Beast
…If one cannot attend a funeral or wake or reception, this is an ideal and active way to pay your homage… 

David Cote, Observer
Viewed in the context of Sondheim’s monumental career—quirkiest since Anyone Can Whistle, most political since AssassinsHere We Are is a tenderly whispered coda. It shocks, how much he achieved: writing the lyrics to West Side Story and Gypsy before he was thirty; noodling at the piano in his nineties. Here he was. Yet he’s still here.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York
About 15 minutes into Act II, the onstage piano goes dead quiet. “Rest in peace,” says the Bishop, and as [David Henry] Pierce says the line he looks out and up, as though acknowledging a greater loss. And that seems to be the overall attitude of Mantello’s production: recognizing, and moving forward. This is what we have, it seems to say, and this is better than nothing. It is what it is. We are where we are. Here we are. Here we go.

Jesse Green, New York Times
“Here We Are” is as experimental as Sondheim throughout his career wanted everything to be. To swim through its currents of echoes of earlier work — some “Anyone Can Whistle,” some “Passion,” some “Merrily We Roll Along” — is to understand the characters’ monstrous insatiability. We, too, will always want more, even when we’ve had what by any reasonable standards should already be more than enough.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Here We Are

How you react to “Here We Are” greatly depends on what you are expecting. Sondheim’s music has a thrillingly familiar sound – not least, I suspect, because it’s arranged and orchestrated by two of Sondheim’s long-time collaborators, Alexander Gemignani and Jonathan Tunick – but on first listen it seems so seamlessly integrated into Ives’ dialogue that it’s hard to imagine being turned into discrete songs for the bourgeoisie at piano bars like Marie’s Crisis. Ives’ adaptation streamlines Buñuel’s films for the stage and adds its own comic flourishes, but it’s faithful enough to the filmmaker’s opaque, random strangeness that some theatergoers will surely find it a challenge to interpret or even to digest. The cast is starry and game, but this is an ensemble piece, with most of the actors on stage together most of the time, which sometimes sows confusion. Still, their individual (satiric) characters do shine through.  Full Review 

Book review: Sondheim: His Life, His Shows, His Legacy

…at its juiciest when presenting the story of this alluring figure from Ancient Greek mythology as if she is a twenty-first century housewife, with anachronisms that are both amusing and pointed. …. But such moments are not frequent enough in this ninety-minute play… “Helen” is less Real Housewives of Sparta than Surreal Artists of the Avant-Garde. Full Review

Laurie Anderson at BAM: Songs, A Scream, Tai Chi

The Week in New York Theater News

Four more shows were announced for the Broadway 2023-2024 season in the Spring:

“Doubt,” the first Broadway revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer winning play, will open at  Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater on February 29, with a stellar cast: Tyne Daly, Liev Schreiber, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Zoe Kazan. Sister Aloysius, the principal of a Catholic school in the Bronx, suspects an improper relationship between the charismatic priest Father Flynn and a student.

“My Sons A Queer (But What Can You Do?)” is opening at the Lyceum Theater March 12. Rob Madge’s one-person play follows the journey of a family as they explore their son’s identity as a Queer human and love for all things Disney

“Suffs” is coming to Broadway! Shaina Taub’s musical about the suffragette movement opens at the Music Box Theater April 18, with Hillary Rodham Clinton & Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai joining the producing team.  My review of the Off-Broadway production, which I called an inspiring, instructive and entertaining sung-through musical that tells the sweeping story of the final seven-year push to secure for women the right to vote by ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. 

“Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” a Broadway transfer of the West End’s new (and newly named) production starring Eddie Redmayne and Gayle Rankin of the story about American Sally Bowles in Nazi Germany will open April 20th and 21st at the August Wilson theater, transformed into an in-the-round auditorium and “sinfully dreamlike spaces which guests will be invited to explore pre-show entertainment, drinks, and dining.”

For details and links, check out my Broadway 2023-2024 season preview

Top 12 Most Produced Plays and 24 Most Produced Playwrights in 2023-24 Season

Heidi Schreck’s “What The Constitution Means To Me” is the most produced play in America this season, according to American Theatre Magazine’s latest survey, and Lynn Nottage is the most produced playwright.

Elle Fanning, who currently stars as Catherine The Great in Hulu’s “The Great,” has joined Sarah Paulson, Corey Stall et all in the cast of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “Appropriate,” which is opening on Broadway at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theater on December 18.

Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford will leave “Sweeney Todd” on January 14. Replacement casting has not been announced.

Harmony, which began previews Oct 18, will offer the first 18 rush tickets each morning at the Barrymore box office for $18.00 each. The Barry Manilow/Bruce Sussma musical about the Comedian Harmonists opens November 13. My review of the production Off-Broadway.

In Memoriam

Jeff Fender, 60, fabric painter for dozens of Broadway shows

Haydn Gwynne, 66, UK actress who performed on Broadway in Billy Elliot

Joanna Merlin, 92, actress in original Fiddler on the Roof, go-to casting director for Hal Prince/Stephen Sondheim, author and teacher

Author: 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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