Note: I had a glass (or three) of wine last night and watched the “Sondheim! The Birthday Concert” dvd from start to finish, allowing myself one documented thought per performance. A word of warning: I guess I was a touch grumpy. And it might help to have seen the DVD to know what I’m referring to in some areas. So, I guess what I’m saying is … read at your own risk?
So, let’s get started!
– Yay, Paul Gemignani!
– Oh, that clever and uptight Niles Crane! Loving this bright, showy overture — same one they used for that infamous Ravinia concert this summer.
– Surprise star entrances! Watch as they glide on the stage, meet in pairs, and collect a flute of champagne before floating back off to the wings! Oh! Did LuPone just say “no!” to the champagne? And how cruel, Mr. Lonny Price, staging it so Elaine Stritch, a long-time recovering alcoholic, has to walk by the champagne tray. A pro, she makes it into a bit. Good girl.
– Karen Olivio certainly is having problems with the dancing of “America.” Is this during her ankle troubles?
– Alex Gemignani’s “Something’s Coming” is quite solid. And when did he get attractive?
(This is when the grumpy starts in…)
– Is it just me, or are Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley a mismatched couple? And why does Mazzie enter the stage with her tongue sticking out all the time? She did that in her first entrance at the top of the show. Bizarre.
– Big yawn at Victoria Clark’s mugging. She’s doing her best to sell a song that’s kind of a one-note joke.
– That Nathan Gunn certainly can sing, and has amazing hair, but he’s like dead wood onstage. Very (very) attractive dead wood, but dead wood nonetheless.
– Cute performance of a favorite Follies number of mine, “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” / “Love Will See Us Through.” No complaints.
– Oh, Audra. It must be hard to emote next to a head of perfect hair (aka Gunn, again). Kudos for trying.
– More Follies? Oh, okay. It’s John McMartin, after all, and his performance makes me wish more than ever that I could’ve seen the original production of Follies.
– Chip Zien has not changed one bit. Joanna Gleason’s face, on the other hand, has morphed into a different creature altogether. However, they’re still adorable together performing “It Takes Two.”
– Jim Walton accompanying himself in “Growing Up” is just pure class. Love this performance. Love him.
– Oh, god. Patinkin is more annoying and mannered here than I’ve ever seen him before.
– Is it just me, or are Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin a mismatched couple? Peters looks like a goddess, per usual. And would it kill you to wear a suit, Mr. Pantinkin?
– Cerveris and Hearn — one is “Sweeney: Light,” the other is “Sweeney: Full Bodied.” Guess which one is which?
– A threesome “Little Priest,” eh? Cute idea. Liked it more at Ravinia. LuPone needs to pick a key. And what IS she wearing? Looks like she ransacked Blanche Devereaux’s closet. Is it a dress? A pantsuit? What?
– Why the dancing? Where’s that wine bottle?
– Laura Benanti is positively glowing. A simple performance of a simple song (“So Many People”). But why can’t she get the orchestra to back her up?
– David Hyde Pierce – I love you. You’re adorable. But don’t sing high notes, k?
– Here come the ladies! My: that’s a lot of red.
– While this isn’t my first time seeing LuPone do “The Ladies Who Lunch” with a full orchestra, it is the first time seeing her perform it in such a bright red dress. Has the bossa nova ever sounded so belty? Very happy her performance of this number has been (legitimately) documented. Maybe it’s just me, but her hair’s looking very “wiggy” these days.
– I’m sorry to say, but Mazzie (whom I love) is the “one of these things is not like the other” entry. Still, a solid, if oversung, “Losing My Mind.”
– Audra (and Audra’s amazing arms) are singing this song (“The Glamorous Life”)? Again? She’s great at it, but come ON. She’s sung it at every concert I’ve attended of hers for the past five years.
– Meanwhile, a mascara-streaked LuPone observes her contemporaries from the sidelines:
– I’ve never been a fan of Donna Murphy’s, but she absolutely nails “Could I Leave You?”
– Bernadette can barely get through “Not a Day Goes By” she’s emoting so hard. No one sings it better, but we’ve heard her performance of this song before, haven’t we? Next!
– Stritch is still here, dammit, showin’ you young’ins how it’s done. I love watching the ladies watch her.
– Not the most original finale for a Sondheim concert (“Sunday”), but seeing a verklempt Sondheim was worth it. And that’s a shit-load of singers. Oh, hey! Is that Nancy Opel?
– A teary-eyed Sondheim takes a bow, and I want to rush up there and give him a hug. Despite my cantankerous mood, this was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.
And there you go! Happy birthday, Sondheim!