“This is the first multimedia production by MST&DA’s Adult Musical Theatre Studio class,” says Cusick. “It's been very exciting to have Sondheim himself be part of the show.”
To clarify, “Through the use of exclusive interview footage, audiences get an inside look at the personal life and artistic process of Stephen Sondheim.”
That distinction makes Sondheim on Sondheim, first performed on Broadway in 2010, unique to musical theatre. Composer of music and usually lyrics for shows from West Side Story through Gypsy, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Sweeney Todd to Sunday in the Park with George, Sondheim weaves a long trail of memorable music.
This production takes a different slant.
To accompany taped interviews with Sondheim, the songs — curated by James Lapine — are drawn from 19 shows, including student shows, and along with well-known and not so well-known numbers, there are even lyrics that were cut.
Cusick choses an aggressive approach, “The original production featured a cast of 8. Ours is a cast of 17 ranging in age from 18 through 77,” that makes room for “many different voices.”
11 of those voices are Roosevelt Islanders.
Russ Cusick tackles Sondheim’s musical and lyrical representation of Seurat’s pointillist paintings in Finishing the Hat from Sunday in the Park with George, and Kathleen Weeks takes on the emotionally touching In Buddy’s Eyes from Follies.
Eric B. Cohen tackles my favorite Sondheim song, Being Alive, the closing anthem from Company.
“The tapestry of creativity that characterizes Stephen Sondheim remained largely undiscussed, especially by the man himself, until the creation of Sondheim on Sondheim,” says Music Theatre International. “Far from the typical song cycle, Sondheim on Sondheim has massive theatrical potency, as well as inarguable staying power.”
Cusick is preparing the ensemble for four performances: March 31st at 8:00 p.m., April 1st at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and April 2nd at 7:00 p.m.
Plan a date. We will let you know where you can get tickets as soon as they become available.