Stephen Sondheim obtains a starred but late 90th anniversary concert


NEW YORK (AP) – Josh Groban, Nathan Lane and Jake Gyllenhaal honored composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim on Sunday with a 90th anniversary online concert packed with songs, but delayed by technical difficulties.

The star special called “Take Me to the World” presented performances by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kelli O’Hara, Lea Salonga, Judy Kuhn, Katrina Lenk, Aaron Tveit, Laura Benanti, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters, who closed the show with a triumphant version of “No One Is Alone” without any accompanying music.

Sondheim actually celebrated its 90th birthday on March 22, but plans to celebrate were put online after Broadway closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Sunday evening celebration coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Broadway show in Sondheim, “Company”, and served as a fundraiser for Artists Striving to End Poverty.

Sutton Foster was the first to sing, choosing “There Won’t Be Trumpets” and his young daughter, Emily, wished Sondheim a happy birthday at the end. Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald and Meryl Streep each drank glasses of alcohol to team up for a noisy “The Ladies Who Lunch”.

Neil Patrick Harris sang “The Witch’s Rap” and thanked Sondheim: “He made me love the theater, he made me love music, he made me love rhythm,” he said. . The children of Harris also played a role in the performance, bowing at the end.

“Seinfeld” celebrity Jason Alexander said he was challenged by the composer, while Annaleigh Ashford and Gyllenhaal came together for a song of their partnership on Broadway in 2017, Sondheim’s revival of “Sunday in the park with George “.

There was a duo of Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt, who sang “It Takes Two”. Victor Garber recalled hearing enthusiastically “Johanna” from “Sweeney Todd” for the first time. In a video of a field with his dog, Mandy Patinkin said of Sondheim: “It just turns my darkness into light. “

There was an intimate atmosphere to the event, with many musicians and singers dressed in T-shirts, minimalist makeup and in front of simple decorations.

“I have to go prepare dinner,” said Melissa Errico after singing “Children and art”.

Beginning in fashion late, the tribute began on YouTube more than an hour after the announced start time.

“Send the singers! A grumpy fan posted, echoing Sondheim’s classic “Send in the Clowns” tune – which was then sung by Donna Murphy.

It was hosted and produced by Raúl Esparza, who appeared in the cover of “Company”, winner of a Tony Award in 2006. Esparza blamed the delay on technical difficulties, tweeting: “The curtain always rises late at night of the opening ”.

During an aborted departure, Esparza appeared, but his opening speech could not be heard and he suddenly went off the screen. (“They should have hired people” SNL, “” said an online commentator.) Esparza later appeared in short videos offering personal comments and sang “Take Me to the World.” ”

The delay and the fact that many videos have been pre-recorded reminds some of Fox’s 2019 broadcast of the musical “Rent”, which used pre-recorded material for much of the show. after an artist was injured during a rehearsal.

Sondheim’s shows include “Merrily We Roll Along”, “Sweeney Todd” and “A Little Night Music”. He also worked alongside Leonard Bernstein as a lyricist for “West Side Story”.

Steven Spielberg honored Sondheim’s photographic knowledge of the film and thanked him for helping with the director’s next version of “West Side Story”.

“For me, it was like going back to school and meeting my favorite teacher,” said Spielberg.

Lane, a frequent collaborator, joked that the often celebrated Sondheim was “an unsung hero” of American theater.

“Here’s my little show business adage for this evening: if possible, try to work with a genius,” said Lane. ” They are funny. They are smart. They inspire and tend to bring out the best in you. And that’s Steve’s kind of genius. ”


Mark Kennedy is at


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