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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey

Just This SIDE of Heaven

By Beverly Creasey

If you love Sondheim---and if you don’t, this show will win you over---hurry, hurry to the New Repertory Theatre (at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown) for SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM (through July 22nd). The evening really shouldn’t be called a “revue” of Sondheim songs, because the singers act the heck out of each song and each song becomes a full blown mini-musical. Nor does the phrase “musical comedy” do justice to the hysterics on stage. Director Rick Lombardo pulls out all the stops for a raucous romp through shows like A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, COMPANY and GYPSY.

Lombardo has corralled two of Boston’s best comediennes--- and one leading man who doesn’t get the chance very often to show off his funny bone--- and the chemistry is explosive. You’ll hear songs you probably haven’t heard before, like Maryann Zschau’s naughty “I never do anything twice” written for the film, THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION or Brendan McNab’s heartbreaking “I Remember” from the televised EVENING PRIMROSE with Anthony Perkins! And you’ll see Leigh Barrett bring down the house even with a bag over her head… and what she can do with a trumpet has to be seen! Her vocal range alone is astonishing. The shenanigans are full of surprises and the evening is full of gorgeous music. Musical director Todd Gordon sees to that.

Radio host of the WERS “Standing Room Only” show, Jonathan Colby, supplies little tidbits of gossip and delicious morsels of Sondheim-abilia to go along with the gorgeous music from hits like WEST SIDE STORY and FOLLIES. Who doesn’t love the shimmering sound of two pianos, four hands (which almost takes your breath away in the exquisite “Losing My Mind”): Joshua Finstein joined Gordon the night I attended. I guess the best compliment I can give Lombardo and company is that I had so much fun, I’m going back to see it again.

"Side by Side by Sondheim" (7 - 22 July)
321 Arsenal Street, WATERTOWN MA
1 (617)923-8487

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide