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"Colour and Light" – Sondheim gets a new finish in musical dance film

A new film has been released by the Tellers Company

"Colour and Light"
© The Tellers Company

In the year since Stephen Sondheim's death, the reverence for his work has only grown exponentially – with some major revivals taking to stages across the UK and beyond.

Sometimes, however, the best way to celebrate a revered creative is craft something bold and original – as has been done by the Tellers Company, a dance company based in London. The organisation has collaborated with the Kings Theatre in Portmsouth to present a new musical short film, available to watch below.

But where did it all start? The answer, it turned out, was "Colour and Light", the title of one of Sondheim's most cherished numbers.

The Tellers' artistic director Taylor Walker explains all: "I have been formulating this concept for a while. I have always admired Sondheim's art within his music and lyrics - it is enduring genius. I wanted to create something that felt fresh and new whilst also following the iconic established character of George, from "Sunday In The Park With George".

"That was the spark for the fuse of this idea. I wanted to illuminate some of my favourite moments of Sondheim's using George as the vessel, and through the lens of The Tellers Company."

You can watch the mesmeric short film here:

The piece, led by dancer Jaih Betote as George (with 91-year-old John Cruttenden playing Sondheim), has already had a glowing reception from emminent members of the theatre community – Tony Award-winning musical director and orchestrator Sarah Travis described the film as "A beautiful and moving tribute to Sondheim. A kaleidoscope of fresh, dynamic and vibrant choreographic segments that brought a tear to my eye."

Orchestrator and producer Richard Vanryne explained: "Sondheim maintained that all songs in a musical should serve a purpose narratively, and Taylor and I tried to channel this as much as possible throughout our medley. Taking some of our favourite writing of his, we blended it together using fresh production, transforming Sondheim's timeless magic into a more cinematic experience."

Andrew Lippa, composer of The Wild Party and The Addams Family, said "Taylor Walker interprets Sondheim? You had me at 'Sondheim'. No, wait. You had me at 'Taylor Walker'. No, wait. What a combo!" Award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear commented: "Taylor Walker's work is so innovative and inspiring. The Tellers company gives a fresh and exciting tribute to Stephen Sondheim."

Betote and Stephen Sondheim
© The Tellers Company

Kyle Richardson has shot the piece, which also feature art design by Anu Ogunmefun. The ensemble features Alicia North, Andrii Osadchyi, Abbey Devoy, Bonny Brookes, Catrin Thomas, Clare Kate O'Brien, Callum Man, Christina Demetriou, Chantelle Ayres, Charlotte Roscoe, Elizabeth Armstrong, Eilidh Sills, Grace Hope, Grace Earle, Holly Saw, Heather Gorniak, Jessie Ellen Lee, Kezia Coulson, Libby Marshall, Nicolle Matheu, Onuri Smith, Phoebe Fish, Sorcha Ringland, Sol Childs , Sophie Devonport, Suzy Halstead and Shani Kantor.