‘Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration’ Was A Musical Gift That Kept Giving

L-R Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep (screen capture)

It began with some tech problems, but when Broadway.com’s salute to legendary composer Stephen Sondheim – Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration – finally got underway it was truly a gift for musical theatre fans.

So many fantastic performances of Sondheim’s lengthy and rich catalog.

One of the highlights was easily Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald serving up a spectacular “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company as a kind of  Zoom cocktail hour. Donning white robes and pouring generous drinks, the approach was not only hilarious but solved the problem of trying to live up to Elaine Stritch’s legendary performance of the song.

In case you missed it, I’ve cued up Christine, Meryl and Audra’s brilliant performance below, but you can view the entire 2+ hour livestream below.

Other highlights include:

• Melissa Errico’s “Children and Art” (Sunday in the Park with George) was the picture of understated perfection at the 41:04 mark

• Mandy Patinkin, standing outside alone amid an enormous, empty grassy field, shared a moving a cappella “Lesson #8” (Sunday in the Park with George) at the 54:21 mark

• Laura Benanti – “I Remember” (Evening Primrose) at 1:08:28 mark

• Chip Zien, the original “Baker” (Into the Woods) was heartbreaking as he reprised his song “No More” at 1:14:06

• The event’s host, Raúl Esparza, sang a beautiful take on the event’s title song, “Take Me to the World” (Evening Primrose) at 1:50:59

• Donna Murphy’s poignant, pensive rendition of “Send in the Clowns” (A Little Night Music) at the 1:53:55 mark

• Bernadette Peters closing out the event with a gorgeous, a cappella take on a song she didn’t sing in Into The Woods, “No One Is Alone” at 2:11:18

Bernadette Peters (screen capture)

In truth, there are tons of terrific performances – I’m sure I’ll have missed mentioning something I loved. If you click here, you’ll find the full show with a complete breakdown of shortcuts to each individual performance.

Stay with it to the end as there’s a much fun postscript to the shindig with the song “Broadway Baby” from Follies.

The event served as a fundraiser for ASTEP – Artists Striving to End Poverty. You can donate at this link.