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Side by Side by Sondheim
Theatre Pick of the Week
Review by Tom Provenzano, LA Weekly

This splendid production painstakingly put together piece by piece and moment by moment by director Bob Ari and his wonderful cast is the best kind of tribute to Americaís master of musical and lyrical intricacy. Ariís magic as a director is his flawless understanding of Sondheimís particular genius. Each of the 36 songs is treated as a fully realized little play unto itself, just as Sondheim created it. Whether presented motionlessly by a performer in a pool of light or with the witty and balanced choreography of Ari and Todd Nielsen, each number is a joyous gift to the audience. The weakest part of the play is a sometimes sparkling, but too often stumbling, narration by earthy Sandra Kinder, which is sure to become seamlessly funny in the weeks to come. Kinder does redeem herself fully with a hilarious rendition of the steamy I Never Do Anything Twice. Not all of the singing is first rate (though a surprising amount of it is), but almost every but of staging is exciting, original and unabashedly fun. Todd Nielsen and Stephanie Truitt both have powerhouse legit voices that stun the audience with Sondheimís best ballads and showstoppers. Eileen TíKaye is merely a good singer, but possesses comic possibility and steals the show. The very capable Scot Stevenson handsomely rounds out the cast. Musical director Marhorie Poe and second pianist Jan Powell offer delicious accompaniment. This is the perfect show to take friends of Sondheim fanatics who just donít get it yet. 

Copyright 1988, LA Weekly
Reprinted by permission
Side by Side by Sondheim at the Colony Theatre