Audiences can feast on samples of Sondheim
By Alice T. Carter
Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 8:59 p.m.
For “Side by Side by Sondheim” director and choreographer Richard Sabellico, a Stephen Sondheim song is like caviar.
So, he's preparing a tasting menu that he hopes will satisfy long-time fans of the composer and lyricist as well as help newcomers develop a taste for the musical theater artist's work.
“We are trying to keep the sophistication of the lyrics and infuse it with a little blue-collar humor. That's what will keep the audience coming,” Sabellico says.
The musical revue “Side by Side by Sondheim,” which begins its CLO Cabaret performances on May 23, had its debut in London in 1976.
It contains selections that Sondheim created for well-known musicals such as “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” as well as those he worked on with others, such as “Gypsy” and “West Side Story.”
To freshen the revue, Sabellico has reorganized it and added to the song list with Sondheim numbers such as “Being Alive” and “Marry Me A Little.”
“They are not just singing songs and doing clever dances,” Sabellico says. “Every song has a scene to go with it, either from the (original) show or created for the revue. … (Sondheim) has an uncommon grasp on the human condition and the human psyche.”
Performing in the CLO Cabaret production is a quartet of performers who stand side-by-side with Sabellico in their appreciation for Sondheim's talent.
“There's a lot to like whether you are intensely familiar with his work or never heard his songs before,” says Billy Hepfinger, who is making his CLO Cabaret debut.
“You really have to pay attention to what you are saying,” says Caroline Nicolian, who previously served as an understudy for “A Grand Night for Singing” at the CLO Cabaret. “Of course, it is pretty music, but you want to get the (song's) message out to the audience.”
For Nicolian, a particular challenge is her song “A Boy Like That” from “West Side Story” that requires extra work when removed from the emotional context of the musical.
“He really does write for the performer and that makes it very easy to sing the song he writes for the play,” says Lenora Nemetz, a veteran of 20 Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera shows.
That's not to say he doesn't also challenge the performer to do a little work, Nemetz adds. When she first encountered “Moon in My Window,” which she sings in the revue, Nemetz thought it was a little slow.
“But then, once I rehearsed it a little more and we visited it again, I thought, ‘This is great,' ” she says.
Sondheim's lyrics are often complex and deep. But they offer rewards to performers and audience members who listen and think.
“His songs are not like anything else — so rich, so deep but emotional,” says Daniel Krell, who also is making his CLO Cabaret debut after performing in more than 35 Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera productions. “There's a lot of heart there and a lot of passion, so you can mine deeper and deeper, and the deeper you go, the more complex (the song) becomes.”
Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins prospect Pouliot more than just other guy in organization
- Kovacevic: Who’s on first? Don’t fret about it
- Liberty water mains to be replaced
- Steelers doctor, trainer enjoy breakthrough with hamstring injury study
- Mitchell deal cap-friendly for Steelers; long snapper Warren, lineman Wallace also back
- Highmark eliminates more than 100 jobs across Pennsylvania
- Penguins’ Pouliot more than just other guy
- Springdale police chief will not be disciplined for foul language
- Promising Panthers’ O-line looks to flex muscle
- Persistence pays for upstart frozen dessert maker
- Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole diversifies pitch-mix portfolio