The life and wondrous work of Stephen Sondheim, one of Broadway’s greatest legends, gets its due in this stirring concert celebration of the master composer and lyricist’s 80th birthday, a gathering which brings together some of the musical theater’s brightest stars to perform more than two dozen sensational numbers from Sondheim’s unsurpassed songbook.
David Hyde Pierce hosts this one-of-a-kind event — many of these enduring songs are rarely heard, and several are performed
by the original Broadway cast members — with Sondheim’s longtime collaborator Paul Gemignani conducting the New York Philharmonic in accompaniment. Directed for the stage and television by Lonny Price and filmed live over two evenings in March at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, Sondheim! The Birthday Concert is a real treat, regardless of one’s level of familiarity with the material. The cast, with a treasury of Tony Awards among them, delight in performing classic as well as less often heard gems from Sondheim’s many Broadway shows. Joanna Gleason and Chip Zien reunite from Into the Woods, Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin perform chilling pieces from Sunday in the Park with George and Patti Lupone, George Hearn and Michael Cerveris team together for a special take on their Sweeney Todd showstoppers, among many others. Patinkin’s hearty renderings, two West Side Story tunes, and the “Beautiful Girls” sextet of performances alone are reason enough to give this superb offering a spin.
The full track listing is as follows: “America” and “Something’s Coming” (West Side Story), “We’re Gonna Be Alright” (Do I Hear a Waltz?), “Don’t Laugh” (Hot Spot), “Johanna” (Sweeney Todd), “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow,” “Love Will See Us Through,” “Too Many Mornings” and “The Road You Didn’t Take” (Follies), “It Takes Two” (Into the Woods), “Growing Up” (Merrily We Roll Along), “Finishing the Hat” and “Move On” (Sunday in the Park with George), “Pretty Women” and “A Little Priest” (Sweeney Todd), “Theme from Reds,” with Pas De Deux, “So Many People” (Saturday Night), “Ladies Who Lunch” (Company), “Losing My Mind” (Follies), “The Glamorous Life” (A Little Night Music), “Could I Leave You” (Follies), “Not a Day Goes By” (Merrily We Roll Along) “I’m Still Here” (Follies), “Sunday” (Sunday in the Park with George) and an all-cast sing-along of “Happy Birthday.”
Housed in a regular Blu-ray snap-shut case, Sondheim! The Birthday Concert is presented
here in 1.78:1 widescreen in stunning 1080p HD resolution, with two audio options — English DTS-HD master audio 5.1, and uncompressed PCM stereo. There aren’t any additional bonus features, but Sondheim! The Birthday Concert will be available on DVD and Blu-ray — as well as digital download, for those interested — before its national television premiere on
PBS’ Great Performances series on November 24. Special liner notes by director Price also accompany the physical release. To purchase the Blu-ray via Amazon, click here. B (Concert) C+ (Disc)