The night opens with words from Sunday in the Park with George: ‘Order. Design. Composition. Tone. Form. Symmetry. Balance.’ But instead of seeing George’s painting, the graphics depict Sondheim’s compositions and lyrics. And from that moment, the cast, led by the incomparable Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga, bring to life the artistry of Sondheim’s varied career.
It's hard to pick out a stand-out moment – there are so many. The comedy of Everybody Ought to Have a Maid or The Boy From…’, to the pathos of ‘Send in the Clowns’ or ‘Losing my Mind’. Each brings us a flavour of the ridiculous versatility of Sondheim. How can the same composer bring us the lightness and cynicism of The Little Things You Do Together and also the darkness of The Ballad of Sweeny Todd? Incidentally, seeing Lea Salonga as Mrs Lovett is quite a treat!
The genius of the production is really in the interpretation of some of the songs. Sondheim was really ahead of his time and there are still new ways of performing his songs so that they remain relevant for new audiences. Could I Leave You? is sung from a gay point of view and it works. Everybody Ought to Have a Maid sees the men as the maids and it works. And then there are the transitions. We are crying with laughter at The Boy From… (sung to perfection by Janie Dee) in one moment and then Bernadette Peters brings such a stillness with Losing My Mind the next.