Porchlight Music Theatre’s Chicago Premiere production of Sondheim on Sondheim – A Review of a Revue

The theatre lover in me struggles between my love for musicals and not always being a fan of Stephen Sondheim’s work. Porchlight Music Theatre’s Chicago Premiere production of Sondheim on Sondheim at Stage 773 changed that. This masterfully created revue showcased over two dozen songs from eighteen different Sondheim musicals. The incredibly talented cast brought Sondheim’s music to life during this outstanding production.

 

Sondheim on Sondheim is a unique show that has allowed Stephen Sondheim to have the “final say” on his work. By doing this he has been able to inject the show with clips of himself that are both funny and heart wrenching, while telling the story of how certain songs and shows came to be. My favorite moment of this was during the explanation of the song “Epiphany” from the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It started off with James Earl Jones II strong and commanding voice going through the dramatic journey of Sweeney Todd as he is about to become the demon barber. It is just  as a softer moment begins that the stage goes dark and a young Sondheim appears on the screen explaining why the song goes through the emotional rollercoaster that it does. As Sondheim begins to sing the next verse, so does Jones, and the two duet through a section of the song that brought chills to the audience from seeing a hearing a truly unique piece of theatre. 

 

Sondheim’s music, some of the most challenging in musical theatre, was masterfully sung by the entire cast. Each person had a moment to shine and each member did. One cast member that truly stood out for me was Rebecca Finnegan. Finnegan, who won a Jeff Award for her performance in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, has a true understanding of how to perform Sondheim’s compositions. Her thoughtful and compassionate performance of “In Buddy’s Eyes” was a truly wonderful moment in the production that brought the show to another level of excellence.

 

 

 

From start to finish, this show blew away the audience who left humming the tunes and talking about the great performance they had just experienced. The cast, the set, the costumes, and the music all came together to create a truly magical night of theatre. If you have yet to see this remarkable show, I would highly recommend that you take advantage of its long run and see it. The show will continue to wow audiences until March 15th. The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. There is an added matinee performance Thursday, March 12 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $39 for Thursday performances and $45 for all other performances.

 

See Sondheim on Sondheim  at Stage 773, 1225 West Belmont Avenue or go to the Porchlight website for information and tickets.

 ALL PHOTOS BY BRANDON DAHLQUIST

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