Side by Side by Sondheim, the celebration of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, has posted early closing notices at The Venue, off Leicester Square. The revival of the 1976 musical revue opened on 1 May 2007 (previews from 26 April) for a 12-week season to 14 July (See WOS TV, 2 May 2007). It will now close on 23 June, three weeks earlier than planned, after 66 performances.

Side by Side is being produced by Neil Laidlaw for NML Productions and Melanie Herman. Laidlaw commented today: “Melanie and I are very disappointed that we have to close the show early as we are both enormously proud of the production. Despite the great reviews, we just have not been able to pull in the audiences we had hoped for and do seem to be a casualty of a generally very quiet May in the West End. We are however in talks to tour the production around the UK in the spring of next year, and looking at various different international dates including the US.”

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 high-profile guest narrators Christopher Cazenove, Barry Cryer, Les Dennis and Angela Rippon, each appearing at selected performances. The new production is directed by Hannah Chissick, with associate direction and choreography by former Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper.

The next production scheduled for The Venue is The Vegemite Tales, the antipodean answer to Friends, which returns for second consecutive summer, running for three months from 26 July to 27 October (See News, 21 May 2007). Bill Buckhurst directs.

- by Terri Paddock