fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Steve and Marvin

On Thursday night I went to the National Symphony Orchestra Pops "Sondheim at 80" concert. Marvin Hamlisch conducted and the orchestra was joined by The Choral Arts Society of Washington and a group of five singers - Liz Callaway, Michael Cerveris, Brian D'Arcy James, Maria Friedman, and Patricia Noonan. The name that doesn't fit is, of course, Friedman, but, while not really known well in the U.S., she's done a lot of theatre (and cabaret) in London.

The program was not the most imaginative one. It went more or less chronologically for one thing, with Hamlisch making brief comments about each of the shows. Hamlisch said afterwards he wanted to include all of the shows, but there was nothing from Assassins (understandable in Washington, though I think there are songs from it that would be perfectly okay to do here), Passion and (most egregiously in my opinion because I love its score) Pacific Overtures. I suppose I should be grateful that they used "I Remember Sky" for the token piece from Evening Primrose instead of "Take Me to the World." But, please, please, please, will somebody put on a Sondheim show without "Send in the Clowns"?

Despite the overfamiliarity, it was an enjoyable concert. I was very impressed with the performances and want to especially note Liz Callaway's performance of "Getting Married Today." There was a Q&A with Hamlisch and the performers after the show and Hamlisch more or less said that the familiar songs get used because people like them. (This is probably why he's a Pops conductor and not putting on programs of obscure modern classical music.) By the way, the best anecdote from the Q&A involved Sondheim trying to put a London theatre company at ease. He walked into the first rehearsal and announced, "G-d is in the house." This breed of humor does not apparently go over well in the UK and they were more intimidated by him than ever. Interestingly, a couple of the performers also said that Sondheim's music is not difficult to sing. The argument is that is is so well constructed that it just falls into place.
Tags: music, theatre

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