The cast of Sondheim on Sondheim, on Sondheim

They’re back! Independent musical theatre darlings Squabbalogic have announced their 2014/2015 season, and it all kicks off next week at the Reginald theatre in the Seymour Centre, where they will debut Sondheim on Sondheim.

An Afternoon with Stephen Sondheim
Rob Guest Endowment’s special event – An Afternoon with Stephen Sondheim – in Melbourne 2013.

With a book by James Lapine, this is a musical revue that goes interactive, featuring notes and information and easter eggs from Sondheim himself, as well as a series of his songs – from the popular right through to the obscure.

We asked the cast of Squabbalogic’s Sondheim on Sondheim cast a simple question: When was the moment you fell in love with Stephen Sondheim’s work? Check out their answers below!

I’ve always been an apostle of Sondheim’s work, but it was probably when I saw the recent Broadway production of Follies that I actually fell in love. To fall in love is to let complexity give way to simplicity, to let the emotions dominate analysis. In the second half of Follies when the central characters represent their inner turmoil  through vaudeville numbers and song and dance – it’s exactly the same. Songs about relationships and observations on modern life melt away, and we’re left with raw human emotion, in all its agony and ecstasy. I walked out of that matinee into the blazing sunlight of a New York summer feeling elated and devastated, and on many
Saturday nights since with a bottle of wine and a Sondheim cast recording in tow I’ve submitted myself to a similar experience. Stephen Sondheim speaks to something within all of us yet specifically to us, and it’s incredibly personal. I guess that’s love.

The moment I fell in love with Sondheim was when I mastered ‘On the Steps of the Palace’ from Into the Woods and didn’t have to count between each phrase anymore! I felt very accomplished!

The moment I fell in love with Sondheim was when I played the Baker in Into the Woods, a very long time ago…..1998! Singing the Baker’s beautiful song, “No More”, was when I really started to understand how brilliant Sondheim is.

A large part of my childhood was devoted to watching the Rosalind Russell movie musical version of Gypsy (as all children did, right? Thanks mum.) Even as a kid, my sister Simone and I adored the wit and soul behind the shows bold but genuine characters. Particularly Sondheim’s playful and genius lyrics in the shows musical numbers. I keep going to name one song lyric in particular as an example of my favourite, but doing so makes me want to mention all of them. You should probably just read the Gypsy libretto. I promise it to be time very well spent.

Discovering “Everything’s coming up roses” from Gypsy which I used for my very first musical theatre audition and still continue to pull out at certain times. There’s a timelessness with Sondheim’s songs. The melodies are so beautiful that it makes it easy to learn the songs. They just seem to become ingrained on your psyche.

I saw a VHS of the Broadway production of Sweeney Todd whilst at WAAPA in 1994. Although I had done a few musicals beforehand, the moment the prologue started I knew I had discovered something truly incredible.

When a cousin (thanks Louise Symes) showed me the video of Into the Woods (original Broadway cast). Joanna Gleeson as the Baker’s wife and Bernadette Peters as the witch!!! The melodies, the weaving of stories, the lyrics, the extremes of hilarious and deeply moving moments. How could you not love the man?

Sondheim on Sondheim will play at the Reginald from October 1 – 18. Book your tickets now!

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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