Breakthrough Theater of Winter Park
Created by Wade Hair
Music by Steven Sondheim
Reviewed by Carl F. Gauze
If you’re a musical theater buff, and you are, chances are you know many of Steven Sondheim’s productions, like Company, Follies, and of course his monster hit Sweeney Todd. But there are many lesser shows Sondheim contributed to, often as book writer: West Side Story, Evening Primrose, or Anyone Can Whistle. Breakthrough artistic director Wade Hair pulled together sample tracks from nearly every show Sondheim ever touched. A cast of 20 gives us a sample of each show, mostly through solos. That gives each cast member one or two numbers, Then they join up for a few big ensemble numbers and a blowout closer. I won’t run though each tune, but some highlights include “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story, “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum and a few numbers from Into The Woods. And you experience, perhaps for the first time, one of Sondheim’s big stinkers, “Anyone Can Whistle.” This show famously closed after a paltry nine performances. At least they let him play through to curtain call.
While tonight’s show hits a lot of the classics (“Children Will Listen,” “Losing My Mind” and “Send in the Clowns”), we hear such impressive rarities as “I Remember” from Evening Primrose and “Good Thing Going” from Merrily We Roll Along. My favorite tonight was “The Ballad of Czolgosz” from Assassins sung by Aaron Bray. Who else but Sondheim would write a show that explores every person who attempted to kill a president? I see this evening’s entertainment as less than a proper show and more of a class on musical theater. Narrator Hair collected a good deal of information on each show, which makes for an interesting backdrop. Breakthrough plans a monthly series of these composer-focused shows. Check them out.