Side by Side by Sondheim was conceived by David Kernan in 1976, 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 original 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 narrator Ned Sherrin.
At The Venue, singers Abbie Osmon, Alasdair Harvey and Josie Walker are joined by a succession of high-profile guest narrators – Christopher Cazenove, Barry Cryer, Les Dennis and Angela Rippon. The new production is directed by Hannah Chissick, with associate direction and choreography by former Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper, and produced by Neil Laidlaw and Melanie Herman.
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For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for the curtain call at The Venue and post-show party at Sound, Leicester Square. Amongst our TV interviewees are: company members Abbie Osmon, Alasdair Harvey, Josie Walker and Christopher Cazenove, Hannah Chissick, Adam Cooper, producer Neil Laidlaw and first night guests including Susannah York, Nicholas Parsons, Jan Leeming, Sian Lloyd, Lynda Baron, Vanessa Feltz (who also offers a duet with her daughter Saskia!) and Ben Ofoedu.
Side by Side by Sondheim 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”.
- by Terri Paddock