Students to Perform Revue of Stephen Sondheim's Work in "Side by Side by Sondheim"

Musical-lovers have likely heard songs by Stephen Sondheim in showstoppers like “Sweeney Todd,” “West Side Story,” and “Into the Woods.”

But before Sweeney Todd teamed up with Mrs. Lovett to make meat pies, and even before the baker and his wife set off for an adventure into the woods, Sondheim was staging a musical warfare between the Sharks and the Jets in “West Side Story,” and lending his craft to more than 20 other famous musicals.

Following the success of last year’s performances of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” the MU Department of Theatre will present “Side by Side by Sondheim,” a musical revue of some of Sondheim’s early work as a composer and lyricist, from Feb. 22 to 24 at 8 p.m., and on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m, on the Huff Concert Hall stage.

Tickets are free with the presentation of an Methodist University ID, and general admission tickets are $5. Tickets are sold on a cash-only basis on the night of the performance.

The decision to perform “Side by Side by Sondheim” was motivated, at least in part, by nostalgia.

“On a personal level, this was the first musical I ever saw firsthand,” Dr. Evan Bridenstine, chair of the Department of Theatre said. “Like MU, my undergraduate program provided free tickets to students. I think I saw every performance. I knew some of the songs, but I didn’t have a good sense of the variety of Sondheim’s work.”

Bridenstine said the musical features songs from “A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum,” “Follies,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Gypsy,” and many other Sondheim musicals.

While Bridenstine is excited to add another musical to the list of performances at MU, he does say that this musical is unlike any performed at the University.

“It’s good music, and the range of songs is impressive,” he said. “Each number is its own little story. Some are comic, others very serious. Even the peppy stuff has a bite to it. This is far from the silliness and campy humor we had last year, with far more complex music.”

The cast of the musical includes students Mary Allen, Amanda Allred, Emily Bledsoe, Ben Crews, Sarah Crews, Elizabeth Cox, Jordan Curry, Jack Holloway, and Davey Tucker. Bill Saunders, a Department of Theatre adjunct professor, created the set, and the performance is directed by Bridenstine.

For more information on MU’s theatre performance of “Side by Side by Sondheim,” call the MU Theatre information line at 910.630.7483 or email Bridenstine at ebridens@methodist.edu.

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