The tapestry of creativity that characterizes Stephen Sondheim remained largely undiscussed, especially by the man himself, until the creation of Sondheim on Sondheim. Through the use of exclusive interview footage, audiences get an inside look at the personal life and artistic process of famed composer, Stephen Sondheim. The show includes new arrangements of more than two dozen Sondheim tunes, ranging from the beloved to the obscure.
The Guggenheims say, “It is the greatest honor and privilege to produce a play celebrating Stephen Sondheim for 3Below with an incredible group of singing actors who will inhabit this material and deliver performances for the audience that will move, transport, and inspire. The task is humbling, but as George would say: ‘White. A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities.’”
“When we first watched the video content that accompanies the actors in this production, Shannon and I both watched together and instantly felt like teens at the stage door waiting for an autograph from one’s idol,” said Scott Guggenheim who is co-directing and producing Sondheim on Sondheim with his wife and creative partner, Shannon Guggenheim. “Watching Mr. Sondheim in his living room, seeing his couch, what’s on his walls, his mantle – it really made the ‘theater geek’ inside us rather giddy. We can’t wait to share that kid-in-a-Sondheim-filled-candy-store feeling with our audiences.”
Conceived and originally directed by Sondheim’s frequent collaborator James Lapine, 3Below’s production is produced, directed and choreographed by Scott and Shannon Guggenheim with musical direction by Stephen Guggenheim.
“I originally wanted this show to be titled: An Evening with Stephen Sondheim, but there was a concern that our New York audience would actually think that Sondheim himself would be on stage every night,” said Lapine in his production notes. “Of course, with Sondheim on Sondheim, Steve is there, and I know that when you get to the end of the show and your cast sings ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ accompanied by the master himself, you and your audiences will feel as if you have indeed spent an evening with Stephen Sondheim.”
Both beloved and obscure numbers taken directly from the Sondheim songbook supplement the stories told by the stellar cast. Starring Stephen Guggenheim, Susan Gundunas, Jared Lee, Krista Wigle, Juanita Harris, Nick Tobara, James Raasch, and Theresa Swain, Sondheim on Sondheim showcases music from 19 of Sondheim’s shows throughout the 100 minute production.
“At the callbacks for this production, we asked each auditioner to share their favorite Sondheim memory,” said Shannon Guggenheim. “Perhaps the request could have been viewed as a device to weed out those actors not familiar enough with the material to be part of such a challenging new work, but we were pretty sure everyone in the room would be able to recount at least one defining moment when they fell in love with Sondheim. Not only did each person have a crystallized memory of the first time they were exposed to ‘Sunday In The Park With George,’ or when they realized ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ isn’t about whistling at all, but they spoke with great reverence about how this master’s compositions and lyrics have changed their lives. They know what a privilege it is to be able to sing Sondheim’s work and share the words and music with audiences equally enamored by the content, or even better, to introduce Sondheim to people unfamiliar with the remarkable anthology of songs we’ll present in this revue.”
Cameron Mackintosh said:
It is impossible to overstate the influence and contribution Stephen Sondheim has made to Musical Theatre, both personally and professionally. He was as great a teacher as he was an incomparable writer and the Little Things that he did for so many people forged legions of friendships throughout his long life. I was lucky enough to be Steve’s friend and occasional collaborator for over 45 years since I first produced Side By Side By Sondheim at the Wyndham’s Theatre in 1976. It was a friendship full of laughter, gossip and glorious insightful camaraderie. Steve was so prolific and profound as a writer that it’s impossible to put together a definitive list of his greatest songs, as everyone has their own favorites, so our choice of songs will purely reflect the joy and love I have for one of the greatest Broadway babies of all time.