Cook, Williams, Sondheim and Lapine Will Return to Broadway with Sondheim on Sondheim

By Kenneth Jones
October 1, 2009
Barbara Cook and James Taylor
Sondheim on Sondheim, a new Broadway musical starring Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Michael Arden and Leslie Kritzer, will premiere at Broadway’s Studio 54 in spring 2010 in a production directed and conceived by James Lapine with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The Roundabout Theatre Company is producing this conceptual revue of songs by Sondheim, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Lapine when they penned Sunday in the Park With George. Sondheim on Sondheim — which is punctuated with interview footage of the songwriter — will begin previews March 19, 2010, and open officially April 22 at Studio 54 at 254 W. 54th Street. This will be a limited engagement through June 13.

Additional cast members will be announced. According to Roundabout, “Even though millions of fans know his songs by heart, few know much about Stephen Sondheim himself. Until now. Roundabout presents Sondheim on Sondheim, an intimate portrait of the famed composer in his own words...and music. Through the use of exclusive interview footage, you’ll get an inside look at Sondheim’s personal life and artistic process. An ensemble cast of Broadway’s best will perform brand-new arrangements of over two dozen Sondheim tunes, ranging from the beloved to the obscure. …This unique experience will take you inside the life and mind of an ordinary New Yorker…with an extraordinary talent.”

Composer-lyricist Sondheim wrote scores for Company, Follies, Assassins, Pacific Overtures and Sunday in the Park with George (among others), all of which were revived by Roundabout. He wrote lyrics for the musicals Gypsy, West Side Story, and Do I Hear a Waltz?, and music and lyrics for Saturday Night, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Passion (with a book by Lapine), Merrily We Roll Along, The Frongs and Bounce, which was later revised as Road Show.

Barbara Cook has not appeared in a Broadway musical in more than 37 years, since The Grass Harp in 1971. She won the 1958 Tony Award for her portrayal of Marian in The Music Man. She also starred in the original Broadway production of Candide, plus The Gay Life, among others. She appeared as Sally in Follies in concert, and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Theatrical Event for her solo, limited engagement concert Mostly Sondheim in 2002.

Vanessa Williams received a 2002 Tony Award nomination for her performance of the Witch in Into the Woods and made her Broadway debut in 1994 in Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Kritzer starred in Broadway’s A Catered Affair, Hairspray and Legally Blonde. Arden appeared in the Roundabout revival of Big River and Broadway’s Times They Are A-Changin’, plus Off-Broadway’s bare.

The Sondheim on Sondheim design team includes Beowulf Boritt (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes), Ken Billington (lights), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), Peter Flaherty (projections) and David Loud (musical director).

Major support for this production is provided by The Shen Family Foundation, Perry and Marty Granoff, Tom and Diane Tuft, and First Service Williams.