Sondheim Unplugged

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Sondheim Unplugged

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, September 16, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Sondheim Unplugged consistently delivers Sondheim and, in its ninth season, continues to roll along with all the theatrical glitz that the songwriter conjured up as he enigmatically took American musical theater to new heights. With factoids and jokes, creator and host Phil Geoffrey Bond shed some light on who man that has mystified audiences for years. He invited guest stars aplenty to resurrect the lore and memories from decades past. Covering Company, Evening Primrose, Follies, Sweeney Todd and a number of other shows, a talented cast brought the songs to their fullest glory.

The best of these were Hunter Ryan Hedrlicka, Annie Golden, and Sarah Rice, the original Joanna in Sweeney Todd. Herdlicka touched my heart twice with his performances of “Take Me to The World” (Evening Primrose)—his soaring vocals captured the imagination, belting “Let me see the world with clouds”—and “Talent” (Road Show). However, it was Annie Golden and Sarah Rice who truly stole the show with songs from Sweeney Todd. Golden’s “The Worst Pies in London” was not just beautifully sung, but also beautifully acted as she stomped the ground, struck the air with her fist, and let the audiences know that these were indeed, “The worst pies in London!
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” Not to be outdone, Rice, pulled the mic off to the side and dropped jaws with “Greenfinch and Linnet Bird,” carrying “Tell me why you sing!” through the room with virtuous gusto.

Also impressive was the fantastic group Marquee Five who, in addition to performing Sondheim gems during the show, also opened and closed this edition.
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“Being Alive” (Company) set the evening off in the right direction as the quintet traded leads fluidly. Also beautifully done to close another fabulous night of Sondheim was “Sunday” (Sunday in the Park with George). Joe Goodrich was at the piano and, with clever ease, he carved out melodies to delight.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see