With just less than one week left to raise the funds for our proposed birthday gala marking Sondheim’s 85th birthday, we’re proud to share with you some more of the high-profile supports lending their name to the campaign. Please join them by pledging your support and booking your ticket now via our Kickstarter page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/281141563/sondheim-85th-birthday-gala-at-theatre-royal-drury/
We’ve very pleased to announce that stage legend Michael Ball has got in touch to give us encouragement for Hey, Old Friends! and urge you all to make a contribution!
Michael has done more than most to champion Stephen Sondheim in the UK, winning acclaim for his roles in the original London Passion (Queens and UK tour) and, more recently, in Sweeney Todd (Chichester and Adelphi) alongside Imelda Staunton. His Sondheim CV also includes Celebrating Sondheim (Royal Festival Hall), Sondheim Tonight (Barbican) and Hey, Mr Producer! (Lyceum) so to have his encouragement is much appreciated.
“I’m so pleased that the Sondheim Society is planning something to mark Steve’s 85th year. I’m an enormous fan of Sondheim – it’s impossible to put into words how important his contribution to theatre is. I’ve had the honour and joy of bringing Steve’s work to life in the UK over the years, and I hope everyone who loves musical theatre will give us their support and make a pledge – it’s only with your help that we can make this wonderful event happen… and raise some vital funds in the process.”
Jenna is a patron of The Stephen Sondheim Society and one of the leading interpreters of Sondheim’s work. One of her earliest roles on stage was as Young Sally at the original London production of Follies, and she has gone on to portray Dot/Marie in the London revival of Sunday in the Park with George (for which she won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best Actress, and received a Tony nomination upon its transfer to Broadway), the Baker’s Wife in Timothy Sheader’s incredible outdoor production of Into The Woods at Regent’s Park (having previous played Cinderella in the Donmar production in 1998), and Mary in Merrily We Roll Along in Maria Friedman’s five-star Menier Chocolate Factory and Pinter Theatre productions. It’s always a pleasure to see Jenna on stage, so we’re excited to hear that’s she’s giving us her support.
Anne Reid, MBE is a Great British institution – a BAFTA-nominated TV star (Coronation Street, Dinner Ladies, Last Tango in Halifax among many others) and cabaret performer, and she most recently brought to life the character of Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Palace Theatre in London. Sondheim fans will also remember her as Jack’s Mother in Into The Woods at the Royal Opera House in 2007. We’re so excited that Anne has offered to perform at the gala.
Daniel – an alumni of the Royal Shakespeare Company – is a leading proponent of Sondheim’s work, having starred as Charley Kringas in Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar (winning the 2001 Oliver Award for Best Actor in a Musical) and George in Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Sunday, of course, moved to Wyndham’s for its West End transfer, and to Studio 54 on Broadway, earning Daniel another Best Actor Olivier and a Tony nomination.
It was also in Sam Buntrock’s incredible production that Dan starred alongside Sondheim Society Patron Jenna Russell, who won the Olivier for Best Actress for the role of Dot/Marie… and is another name attached to our Gala.
In 2007, while Artistic Director of the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, Daniel took on the leading role of Bobby in Jonathan Munby’s production of Company. And he was one of the leading performers at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010 for Sondheim’s 80th birthday Prom.
Alison may have most recently been in the spotlight thanks to her remarkable performance on Britain’s Got Talent – check out her roof-raising performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nT2j9Rc9pU – but he’s also an Olivier-nominated veteran of the West End, with roles including Dolores Dolores in On The Town (ENO/Le Chatelet), Pitti-SingHot in Hot Mikado (Queen’s), and Shawntel in Jerry Springer: The Opera (National), for which she received the Olivier nomination.
Rula is a stage and screen actress (and former Polish countess!) whose musical career got off to a thrilling start courtesy of a lead role – Nancy “Q” Cunard de Longchamps – the hit mini-series Rock Follies. More recently, she sang with the London Gay Men’s Chorus, and was a featured performer at the 2005 gala Children Will Listen (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane). She’s no stranger to Sondheim’s work, having starred as Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music alongside Glynis Johns at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth.
Rosemary – the Killer Soprano – has musical theatre credits that include the Witch in Into The Woods (Wolsey, Ipswich), the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd (Royal Festival Hall), and Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd (Gothenburg Opera). Beyond Sondheim, she’s starred as Carlotta in the original cast of The Phantom of the Opera, Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, Hortense in The Boyfriend, Cunegonde in Candide, Widow Corney in Oliver!, Felicia Gabriel in The Witches of Eastwick (nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical), and Miss Andrew in Mary Poppins, among many other roles.
Liz is no stranger to Sondheim, having played Sally in Follies (Toulon Opera), the stripper Tessie Tura in Gypsy (Cardiff) and Joanne in Company (Derby Playhouse), and starred in Side By Side in Chelmsford. Indeed, she began her career with Sondheim, in Hal Prince’s original London production of A Little Night Music at the Adelphi, alongside Jean Simmons, Joss Ackland and Hermione Gingold. She has also played Madame Giry in the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre at and the Royal Albert Hall, as well as in Love Never Dies at the Adelphi; andVelma Von Tussle in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury.
Olivier winner Tim delighted audiences as Don Lockwood in the UK and international tours of Singin’ in the Rain, Julian Marsh in 42nd Street (Leicester Curve, Chichester) and Bobby Child in Crazy For You at the Prince Edward. His Sondheim CV includes Side By Side By Sondheim at the Donmar Warehouse, and he played the lead role of Bobby in Company (Oldham). We’re honoured to have him on board – the first of our American supporters!
GARETH VALENTINE & BILL DEAMER
I can also confirm that we’ve got the main creative team in place now, lead by Gareth Valentine (Follies at the Royal Albert Hall, City of Angels at the Donmar) as MD and Bill Deamer as Director and Choreographer. Bill, an Olivier winner for his outstanding work on Top Hat, returns to Richard Douglas Productions, having worked tirelessly to make such a success of previous galas.