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Side by Side by Sondheim

a Musical Revue
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Stephen Sondheim, Ned Sherrin, Bernstein, Rodgers, Styne

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Artisan Resource Center
ID# 4528

SHOWING : December 06, 2013 - December 23, 2013

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

This highly-acclaimed musical revue is a celebration of America’s greatest living composer!

"Side By Side By Sondheim" is a dazzling collection of songs by Broadway’s musical master, Stephen Sondheim. You’ll laugh, cry and fall in love with music from many of his very best works including: "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Anyone Can Whistle" and "Pacific Overtures." This exciting production also features the classics he wrote with musical theater giants Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne and Richard Rodgers - "West Side Story," "Gypsy" and "Do I Hear a Waltz?" You’ll be treated to these and more in this musical feast!


CAST & CREW LIST
Music Director Annie Cook
Director Zip Rampy
Cast Kirsten Chervenak
Cast Patrick Hill
Cast Melody Pinion
Cast Zip Rampy
Cast Joel Rose
Cast Whitney Umstead
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Beside Myself, Saith Sondheim
by playgoer
Sunday, December 22, 2013
4.0
Out of Box Theatre has taken on "Side by Side by Sondheim" as its holiday show. Is there anything Christmasy about it? No, unless you count the Christmas tree up right, which presumably stays in place for the late-night holiday shorts the theatre is also producing. It’s a musical revue containing songs and lyrics from America’s foremost theatre songsmith. Is it better than HBO’s "Six by Sondheim" special, currently airing? No. It does contain more of his songs, though, even if they are restricted to the years before Sondheim became a household name. (Not that it is in every household these days, but it should be in any theatre-loving household.)

At first, I thought Out of Box had bitten off more than it could chew. In the opening number, a part of the cast mispronounced the word "portentous" with a spurious "i" in it, and the choreographed movement for "cupidity" showed no understanding of the meaning of the word. Intellectually, I don’t think the production does justice to Sondheim. Sondheim’s songs are a rich source of performance material, but here they’re not mined deeply.

There are a few standout moments. Whitney Umstead Sinkule is perfection in "Getting Married Today," with humorous direction by Zip Rampy, and her "Send in the Clowns" is beautifully sung and well-acted. Melody Pinion’s "Losing My Mind" is nicely sung with heartfelt emotion. The other cast members may not have moments as indelible as these, but they acquit themselves well. Patrick Hill’s baritone voice is consistently pleasing, and he interacts well with the others in duets. Joel W. Rose and Zip Rampy also have pleasing male voices, although their comedy doesn’t always land. At least Mr. Rampy (the narrator) has a great rapport with the audience that makes even the unfunny moments humorous. As for Kirsten Chervenak, well, that little lady has a BIG, BIG voice when she belts, yet also a nicely blending soprano in quieter ensemble numbers.

Music direction is by Annie Cook, who also appears onstage playing the electronic piano and occasionally interacting or singing. She does her usual terrific job. She and director/narrator Zip Rampy anchor the production from opposite sides of the stage and keep things moving along.

In technical terms, not a lot of attention seems to have been lavished on the show. The set appears to consist of recycled elements of the "Almost, Maine" set (which work well here, with a wintry Scandinavian feel). Lighting doesn’t draw attention to itself. Choreography is pretty basic (which it would have to be on the tiny stage), and costumes are understatedly attractive, with the only noteworthy accessories being a number of generally ill-fitting hats.

I don’t know that I agree with all of Zip Rampy’s directorial choices. Drag elements don’t really work, and the effective, sex-reversed assignment of one number in the original production has been discarded. Creating substitute lyrics for "I’m Still Here" also seems an iffy choice in a revue dedicated to Sondheim’s work. While the number works very well as a performer’s showcase, it doesn’t pay tribute to Sondheim’s original lyric. That said, the directorial choices add variety to the entertainment, making for an enjoyable theatrical experience. It’s not the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, but it’s got a lot of talent pleasingly shown onstage. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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