Suddenly Sondheim’ pays homage to musical legend

By Bryan Carter

The Music Theater Workshop put on “Suddenly Sondheim” on
Thursday through Saturday, a mixture of works from the famed
musical theater composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

The selections chosen for “Suddenly Sondheim” exhibited a
cross-section exemplifying Sondheim’s talents as both a composer
and lyricist.

The production was a complex medley of both comedy and drama,
containing both deviously humorous subtleties and passionate
insights.

The opening number, “The Glamorous Life,” shows a famous yet
busy actress quickly visiting her house and daughter.

There is much humor seeing the actress’ assistants and daughter
follow her around hanging on every word, but there is also a very
real and sad undertone showing a daughter starved for a mother’s
love.

During the second number, “Invocation and Instructions,” the
audience was put on the defensive as an actor played by EdCarlo
Arafiles, who added his lyrics to the arrangement, stepped off the
stage to musically and very comically convey a few “rules” to
remember when watching the show.

“When there’s a pause, please, lots of applause, please. And
we’d appreciate you turning off your cell phones while we wait …
So please, don’t fart – there’s very little air and this is art,”
he said.

In “Getting Married Today,” a bride displays her turbulent inner
thoughts as she silently implores the wedding attendees to leave
because she’s doesn’t want to get married.

Throughout the ceremony, she continues to assure everyone that
she is not getting married because of many humorously depressing
reasons.

Other selections are quite poignant, such as “A Boy Like That,”
where Anita tries to warn Maria about her new love, Tony. Even
though Tony killed Maria’s brother, Maria can’t stop loving him
even though he might do away with her love as he did her
brother.

Sondheim has won seven Tony Awards, several Grammy’s and a
Pulitzer prize to date. Sondheim’s major works include “West Side
Story,” “A Little Night Music” and “Sweeney Todd.”

Much focus was put on him lately due to the release of the Tim
Burton-directed film, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet
Street.”

“Anytime you watch his shows you have to pay attention … there
are always innuendos in there,” said cast member Ammy Beltran.

While not all cast and crew members said they enjoyed this film
adaptation of “Sweeney Todd,” there is much gratitude that some
part of Sondheim is presented to the mainstream public who might
not hear of him otherwise.

“I’ve always wanted to do a Sondheim review. I really respect
and love the music and the text; it’s so clever and creative.” said
director Susan Burns.

She did much research selecting components that would fit the
talent available to her.

Experience ranged for all involved; some students were new to
musical theater before this production while other students had
more than a decade of practice.

Susan said the workshop started in fall and always runs over
about a quarter and a half to make sure the students have enough
time to learn all the music and staging.

She said there are opportunities for anyone interested in
developing their voice.

“One student started out two years ago in my voice class. She
was not a music major, and when she started singing I recognized
there’s a voice in there,” said Burns.

“She eventually changed her major; she’s now a music education
[student] and now her voice is just booming and growing.”

Suddenly Sondheim

Brandon Tan/Poly Post

Suddenly Sondheim’ pays homage to musical legend

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