Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim turned 90 on March 22, and in honor of that milestone, an all-star roster of Broadway favorites will commemorate the life and career of the timeless composer and lyricist with Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration – a “once-in-a-lifetime concert” beginning at 8 pm, on Sunday, April 26, 2020, on Broadway.com and its YouTube channel. Viewing of the livestream event is free for everyone to enjoy, but it is also being presented as a benefit for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), with voluntary online donations going to the Arts Resilience Fund, designated to bring the arts to young people most in need during this time of crisis.
Hosted by Raúl Esparza and directed by Paul Wontorek, with musical direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell (who founded ASTEP with her Julliard students), the live digital concert features musical performances by more than three dozen luminaries of the Broadway stage, coming together remotely to pay homage to the award-winning nonagenarian and his inimitable songs. Esparza specifically requested that the artists choose a number that “brings them joy or comforts them” – a theme that is most welcome now, as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.
Numbering among Sondheim’s classic contributions to the great theatrical songbook are the music and lyrics for such iconic shows as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion, and Company (the 50th anniversary Broadway revival of which was set to open on his birthday last month, until the coronavirus forced the shutdown of all theaters); the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy; and the eponymous “Take Me To The World” from Evening Primrose (whose lead character, a poet, takes refuge from outside – an apropos title for our present situation of social distancing).
Along with Victor Garber, Joanna Gleason, Nathan Lane, and Steven Spielberg – all slated to make special appearances – Iain Armitage, Annaleigh Ashford, Christine Baranski, Laura Benanti, Michael Cerveris, Melissa Errico, Beanie Feldstein, Sutton Foster, Maria Friedman, Alexander Gemignani, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ann Harada, Neil Patrick Harris, Austin Ku, Judy Kuhn, Linda Lavin, Katrina Lenk, Kelvin Moon Loh, Patti LuPone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Donna Murphy, Kelli O’Hara, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Ben Platt, Randy Rainbow, Lea Salonga, Stephen Schwartz, Thom Sesma, Elizabeth Stanley, Meryl Streep, Aaron Tveit, Brandon Uranowitz, and Chip Zien are scheduled to perform selections of their favorite Sondheim treasures. Like the celebrated master himself, the show promises to be nothing short of amazing, so be sure to login for this virtual musical toast!
Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration plays live on Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 8:00 pm. To watch it, go online.