Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Sondheim on Sondheim” at Footlite Musicals

2.5 stars

The musical revue Sondheim on Sondheim has undergone several incarnations since its origin in 2000. The final product, now having its Indianapolis premiere at Footlite Musicals, hit Broadway in 2010 for a short run.

For this show, I have to agree with the initial critics that the video clips of Sondheim speaking about his works and other miscellanea are the highlights. The concert was meant to give the audience insight into Sondheim’s broad range of music, but for ardent fans, the predominance of lesser-known songs (including some that never reached the stage) becomes tedious.

That said, Footlite’s annual cabaret performance is marred by one overriding element: The vocalists cannot be heard over the orchestra. For its cabaret shows, the audience is seated on the stage for a more intimate experience, but even being a mere 10 or 15 feet away, song lyrics are often unintelligible. Furthermore, several of the cast members’ voices lack the projection needed for an unmiked performance.

The ensemble cast—Lauren Bowers, Graham Brinklow, Onis Dean, Laura Duvall-Whitson, Karen Frye, Jeff Fuller, Sarah Marone, and Larry Sommers, under the direction of Bill Hale and vocal director/conductor Paula Phelan—does present some fine moments, however. Sommers and Marone hit satisfying last notes in “Epiphany” (Sweeny Todd) and “Do I Hear a Waltz” (Do I Hear a Waltz), respectively. Duval-Whitson and Marone perform a nice mashup of “Losing My Mind/Not a Day Goes By” (Follies/Merrily We Roll Along). Duval-Whitson also performs a lovely version of the ubiquitous “Send in the Clowns” (A Little Night Music).

Sondheim on Sondheim continues through Jan. 17 (a change from the original run due to auditorium renovation). Find more information at footlite.org.

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freelance editor and writer

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