Fine Arts Life + Arts

‘Sondheim on Sondheim’ show honors composer creatively

The value of an arts education

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

The Moores Opera House’s “Sondheim on Sondheim” honored the work of the late Stephen Sondheim with style and theatrical whimsy.

Sondheim was an American composer born in New York on March 22, 1930. He won countless awards for his contributions to broadway including eight Tony Awards.

Some of his notable works include “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods” and “West Side Story.” Later in his life, he opened up about being gay and his first intimate relationship. On Nov. 26, 2021, he passed away at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut.

“Sondheim” was delivered by the music students and staff of Moores School of Music. The production was organized and choreographed thoroughly where every aspect complemented each other. From the chemistry and dedication of the performers, the dazzling orchestra, the befitting costumes props and the music score. 

In the musical number, “You Could Drive A Person Crazy,” theatre juniors, Jude Herbert and Miranda Keating showcased their talent with eloquence. Their chemistry and pitches presented on stage were on point. They moved with poise across the stage and exhibited spatial intelligence as they interacted with their bodies and the props. 

My favorite performance of the night was ‘Epiphany’ by music senior Sean Holshouser. I had goosebumps watching him be possessed by the demented character he was depicting. I could hear his baritone voice coming from deep within. 

Although buried underneath the visible stars, the orchestra was just as brilliant. They carried the show, and I glanced every now and then to see the composer gleaming with pride.

The production staff should be proud of their contributions to helping their performers shine. The costume and prop design were a perfect ensemble for the cast. They helped to set the mood and time period. 

For example, for the musical number, “Waiting for the Girls Upstairs,” the wardrobe is strategically used to distinguish the younger couples from the older couples. The younger women wore flapper dresses to signify that they were from the 1920s, and the older women wore cloche hats to signify that they were in the 1930s.

The spectacular music showcased Sondheim’s impeccable aptitude for the musical arts.

Through the use of clips of interviews, Sondheim, the man behind the music, is highlighted as the ultimate star of the show

The most memorable aspects of this play are the thoughts Sondheim had on his life and work. It’s an intimate look into the mind and experiences of a musical genius. 

The audience learns interesting things about the famed composer, such as that he only wanted to be a songwriter because his childhood friend wanted to be one, and he had a dark yet optimistic outlook on life, an element reflected in his music.

Overall, the performance did a splendid job of impressing upon the audience an appreciation for Sondheim’s work and musical theatre in general.

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