The Society celebrated the 85th year of Stephen Sondheim in style with Hey, Old Friends! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. With the help of a 30-piece orchestra, a 12-piece ensemble formed from the best of the West End, a chorus of 37 from Arts Ed, and 41 principals, we said Happy Birthday, Mr Sondheim, and at the same time raised funds for our partner charity, The Silver Line.
The Stephen Sondheim Society would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in our 85th Birthday Tribute to Stephen Sondheim… and to the hundreds of supporters who backed our Gala concert on Kickstarter. The event was an overwhelming success, so thank you, too, to Richard Douglas Productions for making it all happen.
The idea of the concert was to bring together some “old friends” and some new ones and share in the love that we all have for the words and music of Steve Sondheim. Nicholas Parson CBE LL.D acted as host, while our patrons Julia McKenzie and Millicent Martin tied the various acts together, with Milly also delivering her own solo performance. The other principals were: Rosemary Ashe, Marianne Benedict, Tracie Bennett, Kim Criswell, Lorna Dallas, Anton du Beke, Daniel Evans, Dominic Anthony Ferris, Tim Flavin, Anna Francolini, Tiffany Graves, Simon Green, Haydn Gwynne, Anita Harris, Kit & McConnel, Marilyn Hill Smith, Bonnie Langford, Rula Lenska, Jason Manford, James McConville, Alistair McGowan, Robert Meadmore, Martin Milnes, Karl Moffatt, Charlotte Page, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Sarah Redmond, Joseph Shovelton, Sally Ann Triplett, Michael Xavier and finally the winners of The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year competition Carl Au, Turlough Convery, Erin Doherty, Adrian Grove, Michael Peavoy and Corrine Priest. Thank you all!
With just over one month to go until Hey, Old Friends! takes to the stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, we unveil the latest cast list as confirmed by producers Richard Douglas Productions.
And what a list! As well as some of the greatest names associated with Stephen Sondheim’s shows in the UK – such as Julia McKenzie, Millicent Martin, Simon Green, Sally Ann Triplett and Rosemary Ashe – you’ll find a selection of up and coming talent that’s set to be the new generation of Sondheim proponents. And on top of this 30-plus cast of principals, there’s also a choir of emerging talent from the Arts Ed school, plus a 40-piece orchestra conducted by MD Gareth Valentine. Award-winning Director/Choreographer Bill Deamer will be keeping all of this incredible talent in check, guaranteeing an unforgettable night’s entertainment.
Funds from this unique one-off event will be split between two charities: The Stephen Sondheim Society will benefit from a small percentage of the profits in order to fund its educational programmes including the Student Performer of the Year Competition, with the greater share being donated to The Silver Line, a charity that provides an invaluable telephone helpline service for the older generation. We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s offered their services free of charge – we hope that it will make a huge difference to both charities.
And while you’re waiting for your tickets to arrive, we’d like to take this opportunity to welcome on board some of the latest talent to join the team:
KIM CRISWELL: Kim is one of the most exciting performers of our time. Her stage appearances include the original casts of Nine, Baby, The First, Stardust and The Threepenny Opera (Sting revival) on Broadway; Opera Pacific’s Kismet and Cats in Los Angeles; and Annie Get Your Gun, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, Dames at Sea and The Slow Dragin the West End. She won a Helen Hayes Award for Side By Side By Sondheim at the Olney Theatre, and was nominated for an Olivier Award for her Annie Oakley. She has made more than 25 recordings, including solo albums, original cast albums and numerous compilation albums.
She has sung in Candide at the Châtelet, Paris and La Scala, Milan. Kim has appeared with orchestras such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Hallé, London Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Sinfonietta and City of London Sinfonia, Vienna Symphony, Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice, Orchestra del Teatro G. Verdi di Trieste, Orchestra Della Toscana, Flemish Radio Orchestra, Suisse Romande, North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Cleveland, Chicago, Utah, Dallas, Toronto, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Colorado, San Antonio, New Jersey and National Symphony Orchestras, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She has worked with numerous leading conductors, including Sir Simon Rattle, Richard Hickox, Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, John McGlinn, and her regular partners Wayne Marshall and John Wilson with whom she appears in recital, concerts and festivals all over the world. [Source: Naxos]
ALISTAIR MCGOWAN: Alistair is an impressionist, stand-up comic, actor and writer best known to British audiences for The Big Impression which was, for four years, one of BBC1’s top-rating comedy programmes – winning numerous awards, including a BAFTA in 2003. In 2012, he also hosted ITV1’s You Cannot Be Serious – a topical, 6-part look back at the week’s sport (repeated this summer in a much better time-slot!) and is a regular presenter of pieces on The One Show about British accents.
In 2014, he played Professor Henry Higgins in a 16-week theatre tour – alongside Jamie Foreman as Doolittle and Rula Lenska [another Hey, Old Friends! performer] as Mrs Higgins. He was part of the voice team on the film The Unbeatables. He was part of Dave’s 3-part England Greatest… series of pre-World Cup programmes and gave a voice to Roy of The Rovers (for the first time in Roy’s life) for Radio4’s Characters week.
He has worked extensively in theatre throughout his career and appeared in the West End in Art, as The Emcee in Cabaret, the Mikado in The Mikado, Henry Higgins in Pygmalion and The Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors (for which he received an Olivier nomination).
As an actor on television he played Piero de Medici in Leonardo for CBBC and took the lead lead role in BBC1’s Mayo (co-writing several episodes). He wrote the play Timing (nominated for ‘Best New Comedy’ at the WhatsOnStage awards), the radio play Three Pieces In The Shape of a Pear about Erik Satie and the book How To Wean Your Man Off Football with former comedy partner, Ronni Ancona. His love of sport has seen him appear four times as a guest on A Question of Sport and he has also been part of Radio Five Live’s Wimbledon commentary team.
He has directed Noel Coward’s Semi-Monde at The Guidhall School of Music and Drama and The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance for Raymond Gubbay. His love of classical music has also seen him introduce a ‘live’ concert fro Radio 3 and feature as a guest on Radio 3’s Essential Classsics. [Source: AlistairMcGowan.co.uk]
ANNA FRANCOLINI: Anna is one of the most prolific Sondheim proponents in the UK, starring as Sara Jane Moore in Jamie Lloyd’s Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory, The Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods at the Royal Opera House, Gussie in Michael Grandage’s Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse, Helen in the premiere of Saturday Night at the Bridewell, and Marta in Sam Mendes’ Company, also at the Donmar.
Other theatre includes: Out Town, That Day We Sang, Mare Rider, A View from the Bridge, Victor Victoria, How the World Began, Taking Steps, Awaking Beauty, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Wolves at the Window, 3 Sisters on Hope Street, Anatol, Lee Miller, 5/11, Spittin’ Distance, Romeo and Juliet, The Ballad of Little Jo, Cutting Edge, Daisy Pulls it Off, Let Us Fly, The Tempest, There’s Always a Woman, Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight, Mahler’s Conversion, Dick Whittington and, for the National Theatre, Caroline, Or Change, Almost Like Being in Love and Metropolis Kabaret. [Source: National Theatre]
The original Kickstarter video is below. Please note that as the campaign to raise initial funding was successful no further pledges are required or available. Tickets are only available by following the link above.
Merchandise associated with the Gala will be going on sale shortly. Watch out for an announcement.