Sondheim on Sondheim
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Linda came to my house in the afternoon, and we went to the Bowl via the Arcadia Shuttle. The bus dropped us off behind the back seats, which is different from where we'd been dropped off on previous trips. We arrived about an hour early, but people still crowded Linda in line as if they were going to miss the downbeat. People, relax, already! We bought something to eat at the Marketplace -- yup, I got sushi again-- and couldn't find anywhere to sit, so we sat in Linda's row because her neighbors hadn't arrived yet. My seat was two rows down from hers.
LA Philharmonic with conductor Gustavo Dudamel
Sarah Uriarte Berry
Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Ruthie Ann Miles
Matthew Morrison was also scheduled to perform, but he had a scheduling conflict.
Performances were mixed in with video of Sondheim talking about creating some of his shows and about his life. The names of the songs were not in the program, so I didn't know all of the titles that night, but look! We have Wikipedia! Isn't the internet amazing?! They didn't sing all of the songs listed, though. The people sitting next to me moved to a less crowded area during intermission, so I invited Linda to sit with me and get away from her strangers. A woman behind me was very loud when she talked, and she wasn't pleased with Morrison's absence, wondering what could be a better performing gig than singing Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl, as if he can't get work otherwise. She was also irritated that the songs performed were not all the famous ones. Oh, yes, I wanted her to leave, but no, she didn't. Bummer.
- Dudamel sang! "Broadway Baby" in the opening medley. Yay!
- I have a lot of shows I want to watch, including Assassins (have been wanting to watch this for a long time) and Merrily We Roll Along.
- Passions seems like an interesting story. I like the song she sings, "Loving You".
- I liked the moment when one of the assassins gets our attention with the pause in "The Gun Song".
- Phillip Boykin sang "Epiphany" from Sweeney Todd and he was awesome. The woman sitting next to me said to her companion, "I don't know that song. I've watched the show three or four times, and I don't remember it." Ummm...methinks you need to go again.
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson was hilarious in his performance of "Franklin Shepard, Inc." from Merrily We Roll Along with Vanessa Williams and Jonathan Groff.
- I also enjoyed "Opening Doors", also from Merrily. Sondheim said that this is the only autobiographical song he's ever written. See? I need to see this show!
- Ah, now that I heard "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park with George, I get the influence of Sondheim on the lead character in a musical I like called Tick, Tick... Boom! by RENT's Jonathan Larson.
- I forgot that Sondheim wrote "Send In The Clowns". Sarah Uriarte Berry sang it wonderfully, with a shade of green lighting up the shell behind her. I wondered if the lighting designer was a Vanguard fan. That's their song! Green is one of their colors!
- Groff singing "Being Alive" was just...sigh...YES, thank you!
- I loved, loved, loved the duet sung by Williams and Solea Pfeiffer: it was an arrangement of "Losing My Mind" (Williams) with "Not A Day Goes By" (Pfeiffer). It is available on the Sondheim on Sondheim soundtrack with Williams and Barbara Cook, but I really like Pfeiffer's performance.
- I like the way they sang "The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened" from Road Show, with people changing their choice of partner and the jilted partner getting upset.
- Heartbreaking to hear what Sondheim's mother wrote to him before she went into surgery. I like how this statement segued into "Children Will Listen", which was performed with LA Phil Youth Orchestra Los Angeles.
- Nice that they ended with a positive note with Oscar Hammerstein autographing a photo for Sondheim with the notation "To Stevie, my friend and teacher." Hammerstein was Sondheim's mentor, but saw every teaching opportunity as a learning one, too.
I really enjoyed the show. Linda liked that all of the voices were so evenly matched, without any of them overbearing the other. I agree. I wish they had made an official recording of these performers.
Next up at The Bowl: Raiders of the Lost Ark