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Sondheim Tribute Offered by Liberty Theatre Company
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Thursday, December 1, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

American composer Stephen Sondheim turned the musical world on its head as he broke new ground for Broadway musical theater over six decades.

He studied musical theatre under Oscar Hammerstein II and wrote his first musical at age 15. He made his first significant mark on Broadway as the lyricist for Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and followed that up with the lyrics for “Gypsy” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

Soon he was applying his elaborate melodies and amazing wordplay to such musicals as “Sunday in the Park with George,” the macabre “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and “Into the Woods,” which deconstructs and weaves together plots of fairy tales.

The Liberty Theatre Company will pay homage to Sondheim, who died in 2021 at 91, this weekend with three concerts. The concerts will be held Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2-4, at the Sun Valley Opera House. The admission price? Pay what you want.

“It’s going to be a friendly, charming evening,” said Musical Director R.L. Rowsey. “Some people think Sondheim is high brow and hard to understand but, really, Sondheim is exciting.”

The concerts will feature Patsy Wygle, Hannah Nye, Joseph Bosteder and Kevin Wade. There’ll be songs from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods, “Sunday int the Park with George” and “A Little Night Music,” among others.

Songs will include “The Ladies Who Lunch,” from the Broadway musical “Company.” It is a song that mockingly judges rich, wealthy women who waste their time doing nothing meaningful. There also will be “Move On” from “Sunday in the Park with George.” It advises “Stop worrying where you’re going… Move on. If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone.”

Rowsey says Sondheim’s works require him to be at his best.

“Stephen Sondheim is most definitely the ultimate musical theatre god for me…at least my favorite composer and lyricist. Any chance to take a look at his rich, beautiful, charming, funny collection of work is a gift,” he said.

The other performers are equally enamored with Sondheim.

“His understanding of life and human relationships is unparalleled, and I am thrilled to be able to share some of his work in this tribute,” said Patsy Wygle.

“He has a way of laying bare our humanity that is, in my opinion, unmatched by any other composer or lyricist,” added Kevin Wade.

Hannah Nye took two college courses focused on Sondheim.

“There is much to consider between the dense lyrics and how they relate to the music beneath them, and all of the storytelling choices once can make,” she said.

The concerts start at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Get your “Pay What You Want” tickets at https://www.libertytheatrecompany.org/sondheim-ticketing-page.

 

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