Happy Birthday, Mr. Sondheim

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Described by Frank Rich of The New York Times as “Now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater,” Stephen Sondheim turned 86 on March 22.  Stage Notes host Robert Hammond paid tribute to the musical genius. Full program now available on demand.

Some of his best-known works as composer and lyricist include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods. He wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.

Head “Into the Woods” at CenterStage Theatre

images-100x100-centerstage-Into_The_Woods_WEB-185x118I’ve been known to say that Stephen Sondheim is a genius. His musicals are not easy to tackle, especially Into the Woods.  I doubt I’d be up to the challenge. Well, as usual, Ralph Meranto, artistic director for the JCC’s CenterStage, took the challenge.

To be honest, I was expecting a fair to good production. (Keep in mind; some of the best actors on the planet were just in the motion picture!) Into the Woods at CenterStage is a masterpiece! The cast was chosen perfectly, and they delivered a Broadway caliber show. The production is flawless. Who knew three hours in the woods could go so fast?!

The score is every bit as important as the acting. Music director Brian Clickner put together a magnificent ensemble that led the cast into the woods impeccably.

At intermission, I sent Ralph a one word text: Wow! Everyone involved should be glistening. You did the genius proud.

Into the Woods is on stage at CenterStage through May 17. Information is available at jccrochester.org.