Monday, July 16, 2007


The Cast of "Side By Side By Sondheim" on WERS 07/08/09

July 08, 2007

Boston is known for its lively and varied arts culture during the months of the school semesters, but when those hordes of students leave and the dust settles, what’s left to do in the summer? That's the question the New Repertory Theater in Watertown sought to answer with its production of Side By Side By Sondheim, the theater's first ever summer production.

Side by Side by Sondheim is a musical review of Stephen Sondheim, perhaps the best and most influential lyricist and composer in the history of Broadway, combining some of his most famous songs from his early body of work including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Gypsy, Pacific Overtures, West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, and many other obscure numbers. There is something for everyone. This was a logical choice for the summer said Rick Lombardo, Artistic Director of The New Repertory Theater, because "Sondheim is the favorite of Boston bar none".

The three-member cast is comprised of Leigh Barrett, Maryann Zschau, Brendan McNab, all three thought to be "the prime Sondheim interpreters." Along with show pianist Todd Gordon and Rick Lombardo, they visited the WERS studio for Jonathan Colby's show "Standing Room Only". This was a particularly interesting interview because Colby himself was chosen to be the narrator of Side By Side because of his seemingly bottomless knowledge of Sondheim trivia and place in the Boston theater community.

To display the talent of Sondheim, who has revolutionized musical theater for the last 35 years, and of the stellar cast, each performed a solo tune from their review. Maryann Zschau sang a beautiful "I Never Do Anything Twice” from The Seven Percent Solution. Following that Leigh Barrett performed the popular "Another Hundred People" from the influential show Company, and Brendan McNab did "I Remember" from Evening Primrose. The three talents teamed-up for “Everybody Says Don’t” from Anyone Can Whistle, and closed the set with a bit from the eponymous “Side by Side."

The cast got along great with their fellow cast member Jonathan Colby and informative conversation about the show and the history flowed. Lombardo commented that "Side by Side is about his early to mid work, not including the 'mature' later work," while Colby and others drew connections between the reviews early-yet-astoundingly-brilliant songs and those of the later work, like Sweeney Todd. Sondheim himself is a passionate composer and lyricist, and "arouses a lot of passion from musical theater lovers" says Lombardo. Anyone who loves musical theater, or just the best music and lyrics from the unquestioned master, Side by Side by Sondheim is playing through July 22nd at the New Repertory Theater, and is perfect entertainment for the summer.

-Jordan Clifford

To view pictures of the performance with Leigh Barrett, Brendan McNab, and Maryann Zschau, go here

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