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REVIEW: "Sondheim on Sondheim"

Courtesy of Belmont Musical Theatre
Courtesy of Belmont Musical Theatre

Belmont’s production of “Sondheim on Sondheim” is more than just a musical collaboration of the late Stephen Sondheim's works – it is an inside look into his award-winning lyrics and composition.

Everything in the production is sung, and the narration was done by Sondheim himself, speaking to the audience through the inner thoughts of his lyrics and piano keys. He goes into depth about every one of his songs and how they are either about his life or from his imagination.

Sondheim is projected onto the front wall of the theater to speak through the songs through various interviews in stages of his life. The interviews were a mix of broadcasts and ones made specifically for this musical.

Sondheim says he cannot just write a love story, but he can write a story when given a prompt.

“If you say, write me a torch song about a girl who’s just been jilted by a guy and she comes into a bar and she’s in a red dress and she orders a grasshopper, that I can write. Because you’ve started to characterize and give me specifics to write about,” he said in the show.

“Sondheim on Sondheim” is a documentary with dynamic dances and songs thrown in to demonstrate what he was thinking and intending in every song.

And the most impressive part of the show was the voices of the performers.

The tones of the performers were clear, and every note was perfectly pitched. The songs that were intended to make the audience cry are carried by the sorrowful voices, the songs meant to make the audience scared were frighteningly sharp and terrifying.

The passion the actors put into every note, song and dance move was captivating to watch and many times throughout the musical the audience cheered for the performers mid-song.

“Everybody that I’m working with is just phenomenal,” said cast member Hudson Blake.

Belmont Musical Theatre will return to the stage with “Into the Woods” on Nov. 18 in the Troutt Theatre.

This article was written by Maya Burney.

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