Shephard Summers

Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Celebration!

 

Sondheim’s 75th Birthday

at The Hollywood Bowl
The concert of the decade, as far as I was concerned.

We were quite prepared to geek out at the luminous list of theatre glitteratti. What we were not prepared for was a surprise visit by Barbra Streisand. Or were we? I’m getting ahead of myself.

We certainly couldn’t have bet on how this amazing evening began. It opened with a hilarious clip from The Simpsons of Krusty the Clown singing Send in the Clowns. Makes the point of how far-reaching Sondheim’s music is, don’t you think?

On the shuttle ride over from the LA Zoo (no way were we going to fight 18,000 people for parking spaces at The Bowl), Troy bet that there would be some big surprise guests, and we also talked about who was conspicuously missing from the theatre line-up given on the press release. Elaine Stritch, for one. Surprise. She was a last minute addition (replacing Donna Murphy, it seemed). She was hilarious and full of spunk and chutzpah. And despite mic issues, we could hear her just fine belting out Broadway Baby!

Imagine…on one stage ….

Carol Burnett, Angela Lansbury, Josh Groban, Bernadette Peters, Barbara Cook, Elaine Stritch, Len Cariou, Audra McDonald, Jason Danieley, James Barbour, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Marin Mazzie, Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries), Vanessa Williams, Alexander Gemignani, Jubilant Sykes, Stephen Sondheim, Eric McCormack, Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty, Adam Wylie and Jason Alexander.

I can’t think of ever having spent $47 any better than that. The evening was as colorful as my words.

B, Myself and Troy all enjoyed it. B and I had seen many of the performers in wonderful shows before, which readied us for the excitement of having them all mix and match in duets and quartets. Anyone who wants a full list of songs performed, just email me. There were lots of surprises. Some singers sang against their usual catalog of Sondheim favorites, which was a lot of fun… and others sang the songs we hoped they would. Josh Groban and Barbara Cook sang Move On from Sunday in the Park with George, and it was thrilling to discover that their voices matched so beautifully and powerfully. Another surprise for me personally was how much I thoroughly enjoyed Audra McDonald singing a powerful arrangement of What Can You Lose/Not a Day Goes By (I have Billy Porter singing this arrangement on CD) —she absolutely blew us away. One of the most dramatic songs of the evening. Bare with me non-theatre fans. A couple more comments. Carol Burnett, funny as always, reprising her show-stopper I’m Not Getting Married (Putting it Together/Company). Bernadette Peters: lovely, charming, funny and in good form. This is the second time we’ve heard her sing Children Will Listen live… it’s her song. Anne Hathaway has a lovely voice (she will end up on Broadway singing in the next 10 years, I’m betting). I love hearing Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie (we’ve seen them in 2 different productions in the last 15 months). And when Marin and Stephanie D’Abruzzo dueted on the catty There’s Always a Woman (Anyone Can Whistle) their voices sounded perfectly matched, and the audience loved it.

But there were 2 absolutely thrilling highlights that we all agreed on.
Firstly, hearing Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, the original Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney, sing A Little Priest. Any theatre geek can tell you how rare that is. We marveled at how solid Angela sounded…as if we were listening to the recording from 25 years ago. She’s a wonder. The other big highlight: hearing Josh Groban sing Joanna (from Sweeney Todd) . At intermission, I had said to B & Troy that it would be the quintescential Sondheim song for Josh to sing. And I was surprised and beyond thrilled that I got to hear him sing it. I’ve never heard the song sound so beautiful. And damn, Josh has been polishing those high notes lately. No tenor could have done it any more justice (I can say that. I’m a tenor).

The huge jumbo screens showed clip montages several times, and also a humorous interview of the characters from Desperate Housewives stating their favorite Sondheim songs (meant to fit their character profiles). And a clip from Actor’s Studio with James Lipton interviewing Sondheim where we all learned that Celery is his least favorite word.
After a movie montage, Warren Beatty (Dick Tracy, Reds) also came out to speak of everyone’s gratitude for Sondheim. But nothing can top 18,000 people gasping when the announcer said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Barbra Streisand.”
No, Barbra Streisand didn’t sing a Sondheim song. I’m sure people were miffed about that. Even Sondheim himself joked about it. But she led us all in singing Happy Birthday. So it’s more than enough for me to say I sang Happy 75th Birthday to Stephen Sondheim with Barbra Streisand at The Hollywood Bowl. How often do you get to say things like that in your life?
And now the spooooooky part. On that bus ride over to The Bowl early that evening, it was Troy himself who had said to us that it would be just like them to pull a huge surprise guest like Barbra Streisand out of their hat. He actually said it. And they certainly did. Spooky Troy. Even though the concert ended with a fizzle instead of a bang (the singers and Sondheim can’t be blamed for that), and there were some favorite songs missing, it was still an amazing night. The food was yummy, the company ideal, the music and performers divine.

God, I love living in LA.

~Shephard 🙂
P.S. I loved Marin Mazzie’s olive green antique-lace covered dress that gathered near the knees and swayed like ocean waves when she walked.
And yes, that’s the gayest thing I’ve said so far on this blog.

What do you think of this post?
  • Fabulous (0)
  • Fun (0)
  • Uplifting (0)
  • Interesting (0)
Share : Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestGoogle+share on Tumblr

Batman & Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you cannot find wisdom within, try the internet. 

That’s what my fortune cookie from Panda Express/Inn actually said. — Okay — So I googled that quote, and found a flurry of people and websites, all of whom agreed that this fortune from Panda Inn/Express is stupid, annoying, and generally, not a fortune at all. Whadda ya know. Wisdom found. 

I actually found wisdom in the movie Batman Begins (no, really). Every once in a while, you hear someone say something, and you realize it’s this universal truth that has been going unsaid.

It’s not who you are underneath….
but what you DO that defines you.
 


If that quote doesn’t bridge the gap (chasm, for some) between who we think we are –and– who our lives and actions actually make us… I don’t know what does.
I just kept thinking about it. 

We all have this idea of who we are underneath, but unless our actions are in sync with that, we’re invisible. 

And it’s been said before in different ways. Emerson also said it: 

Who you are is speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying. 

And even more poignantly, in 1968, Rev. Martin Niemoller addressed the US Congress similarly. Often misquoted or embellished, Charles helped me find the exact quote: 

“When Hitler attacked the Jews, I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church — and there was nobody left to be concerned.” 


It’s not who you are underneath…
but what you DO that defines you.
I agree with Batman.
–Shephard

What do you think of this post?
  • Fabulous (0)
  • Fun (0)
  • Uplifting (0)
  • Interesting (0)
Share : Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestGoogle+share on Tumblr

Life in LA (May 26, 2005)

 

— Inaugural Post — 05.26.05

Life in LA
Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside combined counties cover 7000 square miles populated with 14 million people! Beaches, Mountains, The Movie Industry, Festivals, Premieres, Events, Sneak Previews & Ltd. Releases, decent live Theatre, Shopping, Restaurants and myriad resources! LA is a never-ending font of fun and inspiration. If you want it, you can find it here. Or near by.

We’ve found LA to be much more than what it’s made out to be on the boob tube (I always hated when my dad called it that) or on the big screen. Paraphrasing our good friend Troy (who has lived here all his life)…Los Angeles is not a city where opportunity just comes to you… you have to get in your car and go out and explore and do! The area is too vast to sit still and hope it all comes your way. And he says a lot of Angelinos just don’t bother.

So that’s what we have done in the last 15 months. We’re all over The Southland, exploring. (Southland is a quaint term the local news uses to make the vast metropolitan SoCal area seem small enough to panic viewers with bad news from 50 miles away)

In this crazy clash of cultures spread out between the beaches and mountains and deserts, I’ll share my thoughts, hopes, dreams, ideas and small adventures, and hopefully manage to communicate why living here has changed our lives so dramatically for the better. 

The adventure begins.

~Shephard 🙂

Oscar Wilde: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

What do you think of this post?
  • Fabulous (0)
  • Fun (0)
  • Uplifting (0)
  • Interesting (0)
Share : Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestGoogle+share on Tumblr