By: Sandi Durell
There is nothing as compelling as listening to the poignant sophisticated lyrics and music of Stephen Sondheim – his innate creative bent for writing about realities of emotional life, love and people are a 20th Century phenomenon. Singers flock to his music like bees to honey. Congratulations to two of cabaret’s most successful – KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar as they delve deeper into Sondheim: Act Two in “Another Hundred People,” a follow up to last summer’s “Our Time” at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.
Interpreting Sondheim means different things to different performers. With lots of obvious research, they’ve seamlessly paired the better known with the lesser known Sondheim works as they sit, stand, circle, kick, move, luxuriate in this theatrical, sometimes sad, many times humor-filled, brilliant rendering, directed by Sondra Lee, with the impeccable musicianship and nimble fingered Jon Weber at the piano.
Gender appropriate has been thrown out in favor of doing away with the stereotypical, allowing for broader interpretations of sexual imaginings evident in Harnar’s “I Know Things Now” (Into the Woods, 1987) paired with “More” (Dick Tracy, 1990) while Sullivan, in her subtle vibrancy, took “Waiting for the Girls Upstairs,” Beautiful Girls” (both Follies, 1971) and pairing them with “Color and Light” (Sunday in the Park with George, 1984) reaching new heights wrapping them with “Buddies Blues” (Follies) in a splendid shining, twinkle-in-her-eye showpiece – a notable highlight.
Together, they soared on “Sorry-Grateful” (Company, 1970) segueing into “Marry Me A Little” (cut from Company 1970, restored 1995). In another of Harnar’s extraordinarily focused moments, the jazz-oriented arrangements “Children Will Listen” (Into the Woods) was juxtaposed with “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” (Sweeney Todd, 1979) making for a surprise and surefire jolt of genius.
The show has been so successful, that it’s been extended through Oct. 12th and beyond into December dates. You don’t want to miss this!
Photos: Russ Weatherford
West Bank Café, 407 West 42nd Street, NYC 212 695-6909 (review of July 29th show)