‘Putting It Together’: Two-night celebration of Sondheim set for Red Bank
(RED BANK | MARCH 1, 2022) Phoenix Productions, the community theater arm of the Count Basie Center for the Arts, will present Putting It Together, a musical revue showcasing the music of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 at The Vogel, the new performance venue located at the Basie Center in Red Bank.
“Stephen Sondheim has been called the Shakespeare of musical theatre,” said James Grausam, Managing Artistic Director at Phoenix. “Everything he wrote was pure poetry, which distilled the human condition into a witty turn of phrase set to tunes that evoked pure emotion.”
“His music will forever be the gold standard for singers, actors, directors and audiences alike, and we felt obligated to honor his passing as a way of thanking him for elevating the art of American musical theatre.”
Putting It Together will showcase 26 songs culled from nine of Sondheim’s best-known titles – from Follies and Into The Woods to A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and others. The revue includes Sondheim classics such as “Not Getting Married” from Company, “Sooner Or Later,” the Academy Award-winning film from the 1990 film Dick Tracy, “The Miller’s Son” from A Little Night Music and, of course, “Putting It Together,” from Sunday In The Park With George.
A total of 14 local performers and four musicians make up Putting It Together’s cast.
“As a pianist, Sondheim is my favorite to play,” said Jason Neri of Asbury Park, Putting It Together’s musical director. “It’s challenging but logical. It’s almost mathematical but still emotional. The first show I ever played for a community theater was A Little Night Music when I was 12. And I’ve been in love with Sondheim’s music ever since.”
Sondheim was born in 1930 in New York City, later crediting his interest in theatre to Very Warm For May, a production he saw as a child. His childhood friendship with James Hammerstein, the son of lyricist / playwright Oscar Hammerstein II, would lead to the elder Hammerstein becoming his surrogate father and mentor – a 20+ year bond that created one titan of theatre from another.
Sondheim would go on to win 7 Best Musical Tony Awards, another seven Grammy awards for Best Album, along with his Oscar from Dick Tracy. In 1993, he received the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.
“There’s no phoning it in with Sondheim,” says Jerrod Scott, a Putting It Together performer. “There is an intense satisfaction a performer gets from being fully present and Sondheim requires a performer’s full presence. His lyrics acutely observe the human experience.”
Putting It Together comes to The Vogel at the Count Basie Center on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12. Tickets are available at theBASIE.org and the Basie Center box office, 99 Monmouth Street in Red Bank.