Tonight we attended the opening performance of SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, an 8-person revue of songs with lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim.

The eight triple-threats in the cast are formidable talents, and all I need to do is list their names alphabetically: Bryce Baxter, Aria Braxwell, Emily Fink, Clara Harris, Phillip Johnson-Richardson, Alex Stone, Karen Whittaker and Gabe Wrobel.

To single out any one of these eight young artists would be unfair, for, I assure you, they sing, dance and act with elegant flair and pizzazz through a swiftly moving two-hour long show that includes dozens of songs from just about every Sondheim show one ever heard of plus a few others previously unknown to this listener.

Stephen Goers is the gifted pianist and music director, and he keeps the music underpinning the eight on stage. Katie Johannigman provides the imaginative choreography. Aubrey Berg helms the production with his usual firm hand and fertile inventiveness. No set to speak of, but fine mood-setting lighting by Nicholas Smith.

But then there is The Video. At first it malfunctioned on opening night and then it became an obstructive element that competed visually and aurally with what was happening on stage. Unrelentingly up front and center, Stephen Sondheim mixing trivial comments with pretentious posturing, threatened to ruin the show for many  of us.

My suggestion would be to can the video and let the marvelous music and lyrics of the unpleasant Sondheim be sung by the very attractive and personable young cast.

More performances follow this weekend in the Cohen Family Studio Theater at CCM.

Rafael de Acha       10/6/17