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Cooper Stages Side by Sondheim Revival at Venue

By • West End
Side by Side by Sondheim, the 1977 celebration of American composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, will receive a major revival this summer – including new musical staging by former Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper - at The Venue in Leicester Square, where its limited 12-week season will run from 1 May to 14 July 2007 (previews from 26 April).

Side by Side by Sondheim was conceived by David Kernan, originally as a fundraiser, following a request from singer Cleo Laine and her husband John Dankworth. Cameron Mackintosh, then a fledgling producer, took the show – with direction and narration by Ned Sherrin – to the Mermaid Theatre and then to the West End’s Wyndham’s. In 1977, the production transferred to Broadway, where it received five Tony Award nominations, including one for the entire original company, which included Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie, David Kernan and Ned Sherrin, with Tim Higgs and Stuart Pedlar on the pianos.

The revue features an array of some of Sondheim’s best-known work, including collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne from classic musicals such as West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, Pacific Overtures and A Little Night Music. Amongst the 31 songs featured in the piece are: “Comedy Tonight”, “Company”, “Another Hundred People”, “Broadway Baby”, “Everybody Says Don’t”, “Send in the Clowns” and “I’m Still Here”.

Side by Side by Sondheim is performed by three vocalists, two pianists and a narrator. Casting for The Venue revival has not yet been confirmed. The production is directed by Hannah Chissick with musical staging by Cooper.

Outside of the ballet world, Adam Cooper rose to popular prominence as the lead Swan in Matthew Bourne's male Swan Lake for Adventures in Motion Pictures, which won him the Time Out and Evening Standard Awards for Best Dance Performance. On film, he appeared briefly as the adult Billy - again playing the Swan - in 2000’s Billy Elliot. Cooper has also had success in musical theatre in On Your Toes and Singin' in the Rain, both of which he choreographed and starred in, and most recently in the West End, Guys and Dolls. He’s also choreographed Grand Hotel at the Donmar Warehouse and, care of his own Adam Cooper Productions, the dance premiere of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (See News, 10 Mar 2005).

Side by Side by Sondheim is designed by Bob Bailey with lighting by Robert A Jones and musical supervision by Michael Haslam. It’s presented at The Venue by NML Productions whose other recent shows have included The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) at the King’s Head, Notes from Underground at Trafalgar Studios and the Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated Beautiful Thing at the Sound Theatre. The Venue is currently dark following last week’s closure of impressionist Greg London’s revue Icons in London.

- by Terri Paddock


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