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Summertime...Took a little vacation! Three reviews coming soon! Amazing Grace, Hand to God and Mamma Mia!

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Jeff

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Best of the Decade: Male Theatre Artist of the 21st Century (So Far)

Looking over the past decade, there really is only one choice for Male Theatre Artist of the 21st Century (so far).  This man, has, like the Female Theatre Artist, Angela Lansbury, influenced and entertained Broadway audiences for decades.  That the man is a musical theatre legend and genius is indisputable, whether you like his works or not.  Stephen Sondheim has influenced every major theatre composer since his own debut.

But what makes Mr. Sondheim the indisputable artist of the decade is his mere record in this past 10 years alone:




The DVD art for Putting It Together

  • 1999-2000: Putting It Together - A musical revue that fashioned desprate songs into a quasi-story.  Starring Carol Burnett, George Hearn (Tony nominee), Ruthie Henshall, John Barrowman and Bronson Pinchot.  102 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Blythe Danner

  • 2001 - Follies - A revival by the Roundabout Theatre Company.  Starring Blythe Danner (Tony Nominee), Polly Bergen (Tony nominee), Gregory Harrison, Treat Williams, Marge Champion.  5 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical.  117 performances at the Belasco Theatre.

Vanessa Williams

  • 2002 - Into the Woods - A revival of the 1987 classic.  Starring Vanessa Williams (Tony nominee), John McMartin (Tony nominee), Laura Benanti (Tony nominee), Christopher Sieber, Gregg Edelman (Tony nominee), Stephen DeRosa, Chad Kimball and Kerry O'Malley.  10 Tony nominations, 2 wins, including Best Revival of a Musical.  279 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Bernadette Peters in Gypsy

  • 2003 - Gypsy (Bernadette Peters) - The first of two revivals this decade of this classic musical, directed by Sam Mendes.  Starring Bernadette Peters (Tony nominee), John Dossett (Tony nominee), Tammy Blanchard (Tony nominee) and Kate Reinders.  4 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical.  451 performances at the Shubert Theatre.

The Assassins Company

  • 2004 - Assassins - The first Broadway incarnation, a revival by the Roundabout Theatre Company.  Starring James Barbour, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Cerveris (Tony winner), Marc Kudisch, and Denis O'Hare (Tony nominee)7 Tony Award nominations, 5 wins, including Best Revival of a Musical.  101 performances at Studio 54.

Nathan Lane (center) faces The Frogs

  • 2004 - The Frogs - A revisal of the musical, re-written by Nathan Lane, presented by Lincoln Center Theatre.  Starring Nathan Lane, John Byner, Daniel Davis, Burke Moses and Roger Bart.  92 performances at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

The Pacific Overtures Company

  • 2004 - Pacific Overtures - A revival at the Roundabout Theatre Company.  Starring B.D. Wong and Sab Shimono.  5 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical.  69 performances at Studio 54.

Sweeney Todd: (clockwise from top) Patti LuPone,
Donna Lynn Champlain, Manoel Felciano and Michael Cerveris

  • 2005 - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - A revival directed by John Doyle (Tony winner)Starring Patti LuPone (Tony nominee), Michael Cerveris (Tony nominee), Donna Lynn Champlain, Manoel Felciano, Mark Jacoby and Alexander Gemignani.  5 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, 2 wins.  349 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

The Company Company

  • 2006 - Company - A revival directed by John Doyle (Tony nominee)Starring Raul Esparza (Tony nominee) and Barbara Walsh.  3 Tony noninations, winner Best Revival of a Musical.  246 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Patti LuPone in Gypsy

  • 2008 - Gypsy (Patti LuPone) - A revival of the classic musical directed by Arthur Laurents (Tony nominee)Starring Patti LuPone (Tony winner), Laura Benanti (Tony winner), and Boyd Gaines (Tony winner).  7 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, 3 wins.  332 performances at the St. James Theatre.

The Jets from West Side Story

  • 2009 - West Side Story - A revival of the classic musical, directed by Arthur Laurents.  Starring Josefina Scaglione (Tony nominee), Matt Cavenaugh, Karen Olivo (Tony winner), Cody Green and George Akram.  3 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, 1 win.  548 performances (as of July 11, 2010) at the Palace Theatre.

Alexander Hanson, Catherins Zeta-Jones and Aaron Lazar
in A Little Night Music

  • 2010 - A Little Night Music - A revival presented by London's Menier Chocolate Factory, directed by Trevor Nunn.  Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones (Tony winner), Angela Lansbury (Tony nominee) and Alexander Hanson.  4 Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, 1 win.  217 performances to date at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

Erin Mackey, Vanessa Williams, Leslie Kritzer and
Barbara Cook in Sondheim on Sondheim

  • 2010 - Sondheim on Sondheim - A musical revue, devised and directed by James Lapine, presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company.  Starring Vanessa Williams, Barbara Cook (Tony nominee), and Tom Wopat.  2 Tony nominations.  76 performances at Studio 54.

This list does not include his contributions to solo shows by Elaine Stritch and Barbara Cook, or the musical Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life.  Nor does it include the off-Broadway presentations of  Saturday Night, Road Show and the Encores presentation of Anyone Can Whistle.   Note:  The presentations of musicals at Studio 54 and the Vivian Beaumonth Theatre by the Roundabout Theatre Company and Lincoln Center Theatre, respectively, are limited engagements.

Not a bad list for someone who turned 80 just this year.


The Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Add to this the Stephen Sondheim Award created by the Tony-winning Signature Theatre Company in Virginia, and perhaps the highest accolade given on Broadway: the re-naming of the Henry Miller Theatre to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, in his honor.

Clearly, the most influential American Theatre composer has not lost his influence.  I, for one, am looking forward to what he still has coming.

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