Station production of Sondheim revue is not your same old song and dance
URBANA — The Stephen Sondheim revue "Putting It Together" usually features two couples, singing songs from Sondheim musicals as well as a few that were cut from the original shows.
Director Tom Mitchell and music director Kent Conrad decided to take a different tack with the Station Theatre production opening tonight. Five couples rather than two tell, through song, a loosely woven narrative. And the two also decided to eliminate the little spoken dialogue between songs.
"You still track through," said Mitchell, associate head of the University of Illinois Department of Theatre.
"You still see with all these different couple groups their characters and their relations and the difficulties they have. The final solo by Ann Marie Morrisette is a reaffirmation of her relationship with her partner. It ends on a positive emotional tone."
The couples in the Station production are: Tom Cravens and Jodi Prosser; Jeremiah Lowry and Ann Marie Morrissette; Kent Conrad and Nicole Morgan; Kyle Thomas and Stephanie Swearingen; and Lee Steiner and Cara Maurizi.
Maurizi, who's among the younger couples, calls the show fun and the lyrics "very stream-of-consciousness."
Prosser, a member of the older crowd, said: "It's Sondheim so the music is crazy and the lyrics are fast and furious."
Conrad said "given how tricky the lyrics are" having more actors singing them helps a lot.
Conrad, music director for the Unitarian Universalist Church in Urbana, said "Putting It Together" features a mix of both well-known and lesser-known Sondheim songs, among them "The Ladies Who Lunch" from the musical comedy "Company."
"To hear Ann Marie Morrissette give it a whole new fresh take, with her phrasing and delivery, is great," Conrad said.
"Putting It Together" takes its title from a song in "Sunday in the Park with George." The revue came about due to requests for a new version of Sondheim's 1976 revue, "Side by Side by Sondheim," which was presented at the Station Theatre in its sixth season — the community theater group is now in its 42nd season.
"Putting It Together" was first performed in 1992 at the Old Fire Station Theatre in Oxford, England. It premiered in 1999 on Broadway and was just presented this past spring on London's West End.
Mitchell said summer is the perfect time to present a musical revue like "Putting It Together" at the Station, an intimate space.
"I always felt the Station in the summertime is a place where you want to have a party. This revue feels like a cocktail party. This kind of musical revue seems terrific for this space."
If you go
What: Celebration Company at the Station Theatre presents "Putting It Together," a Stephen Sondheim revue, with music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by Sondheim and Julia McKenzie. Directed by Tom Mitchell, with music direction by Kent Conrad.
When: 8 p.m. today through June 21
Where: Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway Ave., U.
Tickets: $10 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; $15 on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations: 384-4000 or stationtheatre.com.