I happened to catch Stephen Sondheim’s The Birthday Concert on PBS on Thanksgiving Eve. David Hyde Pierce hosted the New York Philharmonic’s Salute to composer Stephen Sondheim on his 80th birthday. The program took place on March 15 and 16, 2010, but it aired for the first time on television on PBS’s Great Performances on November 24, 2010.
The two-hour concert was the perfect way to start off the holiday season. Celebrities who had been cast in Sondheim’s musicals showed up to pay tribute to the well-loved composer, writer, lyricist and producer. Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Elaine Stritch, Audra McDonald, are just a few of the brilliant stars we were able to connect with on this enchanted evening.
Many years ago, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters worked together in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George. Bernadette Peters went on to star once again in Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. I saw the production of Into the Woods in New York City at the time, and as an added treat, Mandy Patinkin sat right in front of us with his little boy to see Bernadette in this delightful take on Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
At the birthday bash, Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin reunited to reprise their duet “Move On” from Sunday in the Park With George.”
The evening started off with the cast of the current production of West Side Story singing the song “America.” Patti LuPone, who starred in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, sang Ladies Who Lunch which is actually Elaine Stritch’s signature song from the show “Company.” I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Elaine Stritch do a magnificent solo at the celebration called “I’m Still Here,” and she is, very much so.
I was not familiar with many of the other performers who reprised their performances in past Stephen Sondheim productions, but they were all marvelous. It was mentioned that every show of Sondheim’s is different. The music and lyrics you hear are completely different from any other Sondheim musicals.
Here is just a sample of the great work that Stephen Sondheim has given us over his long and successful career.
West Side Story – Lyrics
A Little Night Music – Music and Lyrics
Sondheim on Sondheim – Music and Lyrics
Gypsy – Lyrics
Sunday in the Park with George – Music and Lyrics
Sweeney Todd – Music and Lyrics
Into the Woods – Music and Lyrics
Follies – Music and Lyrics
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – Music and Lyrics
I hope that PBS’s Great Performances will see fit to air this spectacular show again during the holiday season. It was so uplifting and so nostalgic, I would love to see it again. Actually, I discovered that you can view part if not all of the show on YouTube at
PBS’s Great Performances – 11/24/2010