Amazing Journey
Wall to Wall Sondheim
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, NYC
March 19, 2005

Michael will join other Broadway stars part of Symphony Space's Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim salute March 19 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre.

The 35th Wall to Wall concert is set to begin at 11 AM and will continue for 12 hours at the New York City landmark.

Michael will be performing:
Color & Light with Melissa Errico at approx. 2:55
Beautiful with Mary Beth Peil approx. 3:05
Scene 11 from Passion with Judy Kuhn approx. 4:25
Ballad Of Booth with Patrick Cassidy approx 6:10
The Gun Song approx. 9:05

The event will also be live all day on XFM satellite radio and also online
3 Day free trial of XFM online:

and from NOON to 4PM on WNYC

Tickets to Symphony Space are first come first served all day. People will be lining up VERY early and they'll try to get people in as people leave during the day.

For more information visit:

'Wall to Wall Sondheim'
Object Lessons in Song Styling for Actors
Backstage Online
March 29, 2005
By Leonard Jacobs

Photo By: Mercedes McAndrew
The reason for attending "Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim," the monumental 12-hour tribute to the composer-lyricist on the occasion of his 75th birthday, held March 19 at Symphony Space, was not just the 100 or more examples of how his work inspires, dazzles, and fills us with affection and awe. Rather, it offered audiences -- actors, especially -- object lessons in how songs must be acted. Songs live, songs breathe, and an actor has to infuse his interpretation with a bit of himself so that, in the end, the audience has a chance to reflect a bit of itself in return.

"Wall to Wall" began at 11 a.m. sharp when Isaiah Sheffer, Symphony Space's artistic director, brought the clamorous house to order with a warning that throughout the day he would berate the audience to leave the free event so that the scores of Sondheim fans queuing up outside -- in block-long rows three deep -- might get in. But no such luck. The more his warnings punctuated the proceedings, each one more brittle than the last, with morning turning to afternoon and then to night, the more stubborn the audience became. Who could blame them? The lengthy parade of talents, singing song after song of Sondheim significance, encouraged no one to give up their seats.

Following the reading of a mayoral proclamation and excerpts from Music Theater International's version of "Into the Woods Junior" (movingly performed by scores of youngsters), the program segued into a suite of early Sondheim songs -- tunes from tuners composed while he was a Williams College undergraduate. "I Must Be Dreaming," a duet for Debra Joyal and Telly Leung; "How Do I Know?," offered by Actors' Equity Association president Patrick Quinn; and "I'm in Love With a Boy," dreamily delivered by Emily Skinner, were all profound, meticulous illustrations of how to put personal spins onto little-known "trunk songs."

From noon to 4 p.m., "Wall to Wall" was simulcast on Jonathan Schwartz's "The Saturday Show" on XM Satellite Radio and WNYC. Given the wider audience, it was unsurprising that another flurry of well-known performers quickly came forth. From "Company" came a lightly rueful "Sorry-Grateful" by John Dossett, David Staller, and Richard White; an appropriately cyclonic "Getting Married Today" by Sarah Rice, Alice Ripley, Staller, and White; and a plaintive "Marry Me a Little," belted out by Gregg Edelman. Later on, Elaine Stritch, noticeably battling a cold, sauntered on stage and offered her signature tune, "The Ladies Who Lunch," in huskier-than-usual style but with the same imperturbability that she so memorably brought to the original Broadway production.

For the most part, "Wall to Wall" followed Sondheim's career in chronological order, but there were deviations from time to time, presumably to accommodate the long list of talents who'd agreed to appear. Each segment was introduced by a Sondheim contemporary: Jerry Zaks, who staged the 1996 Broadway revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," ushered in that show's section, featuring a rendition of "Free" performed by Sheldon Harnick, the "Fiddler on the Roof" lyricist-librettist, and Michael Arden, the youthful star of "Bare." Panel discussions were employed to vary the diet: A 15-minute segment with famed cast-album producer Thomas Z. Shepard was short but most intriguing.

Schwartz himself led a 45-minute discussion concerning Sondheim's collaborators, bringing on the composer-lyricist (making the first of his three appearances on stage, each to growing ovations) alongside librettist-director James Lapine and librettist John Weidman. Ted Chapin, whose experience as a production assistant on "Follies" was the basis for his tome "Everything Was Possible" and who now serves as president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, introduced songs from that musical by reading from his book. In a short, sincere speech, playwright John Guare dissected his reactions to "Pacific Overtures" through the years before pronouncing it "a masterpiece." Later, Frank Rich of The New York Times led a panel entitled "Sondheim and American Popular Culture," and it was certainly a change of pace to see Sondheim mention Eminem while demurring too much comment on the state of contemporary pop.

In addition, choreographer-director Patricia Birch offered reminiscences of "A Little Night Music" and actress Charmian Carr explained how "Evening Primrose" came to be filmed for ABC television.

It was the performances, however, that were most illuminating. Liz Callaway, for example, reprised "What More Do I Need?," an exuberant song from Sondheim's "Saturday Night" that she first performed at a Whitney Museum benefit tribute back in 1983. She followed up by singing "With So Little to Be Sure Of," the final number from "Anyone Can Whistle" and a tune needing little coaxing to turn purple, yet somehow she transformed that clichéd minefield of a song into a marvelous statement of personal acceptance. Chip Zien, who played the Baker in the original cast of "Into the Woods," sang "No One Is Alone," originally a four-character song, as a strong solo statement directed to the audience. Melissa Errico made the first of several appearances with "Sooner or Later," Sondheim's Oscar-winning song from "Dick Tracy," and erased all memories of Madonna's version by slithering atop the piano and lulling us with sensuality and vigor.

Other performances were stunning in their depth and complexity. Dressed boite-sharp, KT Sullivan sang a rendition of the heartbreaking "So Many People," written for "Saturday Night," that was revelatory. Kate Burton, who sang "I Never Do Anything Twice" from the film "The Seven Percent Solution," was so gleefully naughty that it contrasted with her classy persona. Real-life marrieds Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie imagined "Too Many Mornings" from "Follies" with the honestly of a couple long in love yet long estranged. Nearly 25 years since the opening of "Merrily We Roll Along," Lonny Price sat opposite Michael Cerveris and delivered "Franklin Shepard, Inc." with the same manic, maudlin mirth that made his performance a highlight of that musical, one of Sondheim's most notorious flops.

Star Turns

If "Wall to Wall" had any real star, however, it was Cerveris -- a newly minted Tony winner for his work in the revival of Sondheim's "Assassins" last season. From number to number, he showed a seemingly inexhaustible range. His steeliness opposite Errico in the title number from "Sunday in the Park With George" contained exactitude and was thus terrifically unnerving. After blowing a lyric in "Color and Light," also from "Sunday," not only did he recapture his footing, but he gave audiences unfamiliar with the tuner some clues about its Pulitzer Prize-winning craftsmanship.

He was also fantastically consistent. Opposite Mary Beth Peil, he sang "Beautiful," also from "Sunday," with quick-to-the-draw tenderness. Then, in "Loving You" from "Passion," opposite Judy Kuhn, he segued into well-tended emotion. In the title song from "Anyone Can Whistle," his delivery was suffused with yearning, while in "The Gun Song" from "Assassins," performed with Becky Ann Baker, James Clow, and Merwin Foard, he was mordantly funny. In "The Ballad of Booth," also from "Assassins," he was paired with Patrick Cassidy, who starred in the original 1991 production and showed an extraordinary generosity of spirit. Finally, Cerveris showed he could be an ensemble player as well: His part in "A Weekend in the Country" from "A Little Night Music" was on a flawless, decidedly un-hammy par with Kate Baldwin, Laura Benanti, John Dossett, Randy Graff, and Danny Gurwin.

Some moments were truly unforgettable: Judy Kaye, in costume for "Candide" at City Opera, appearing between the matinee and evening shows to sing "Broadway Baby" from "Follies," and Joanna Gleason, out of costume from "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" but also between shows, singing Sondheim's lyrics for "The Boy From…" (from "The Mad Show," music by Mary Rodgers) with a winsome wink. Michael Arden's unabashedly wide-eyed "Giants in the Sky"; Patti LuPone's pulsating, driving "Being Alive"; Alvin Ing's aching "Take Me to the World"; and even B.D. Wong's vocally challenged "Children Will Listen" were studies in interpretative composition.

Symphony Space also peppered the day with instrumental versions of Sondheim works. A Swedish violinist, Christina Sunnerstam, offered "A Very Short Violin Sonata," which Sondheim wrote at 21. The Ying Quartet worked with three younger talents -- Andrew Lippa, Michael Starobin, and Georgia Stitt -- on original arrangements of songs and themes from "Into the Woods," "Sunday in the Park With George," "A Little Night Music," "The Frogs," and "Follies." Under the aegis of longtime Sondheim musical director Paul Gemignani, the American Theatre Orchestra played often and quite spectacularly during the marathon's waning hours. Don Sebesky's "Symphonic Sondheim" arrangements -- a "Sweeney Todd" suite and a "Comedy Tonight" suite -- as well as the orchestra's performance of the full overture from "Merrily We Roll Along" were swinging and satisfying.

Still, very little could hold a candle to the final 90 star-studded minutes: Angela Lansbury, who will be 80 years old this October, reunited with George Hearn and sang "A Little Priest" from "Sweeney Todd." Even before she sang (on book and somewhat tentative), the mere appearance of the four-time Tony winner generated a positively thunderous ovation; her first line ("Seems a downright shame") brought even more of the same. Later, Donna Murphy, draped in something deliciously diaphanous, offered a "Losing My Mind" from "Follies" that stripped the song of its perpetual melodramatic slide and thus restored it to its place as a Gershwin-like statement of romantic emotional agony. When Barbara Cook sang "In Buddy's Eyes" from "Follies" with both urgency and clarity, the apogee of "Wall to Wall" was reached -- only to be topped by the Juilliard Choral Union's "Sunday" (with a soaring new arrangement by Jason Robert Brown) and the re-emergence of Sondheim himself from the wings to a round of "Happy Birthday."

But the master said relatively little -- 12 hours of nonstop tributes somehow obviated his need for further articulation. Sondheim did manage a few brief words, a quick joke about watching out for too many candles, and a teary thank you.

Barbara Cook, Patti LuPone and More Join Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim Concert; Details Announced
Playbill Online
By Andrew Gans

February 25, 2005

Over 100 artists are now scheduled to be part of Symphony Space's Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim salute March 19 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre.

The 35th Wall to Wall concert is set to begin at 11 AM and will continue for 12 hours at the New York City landmark. As of press time, those scheduled to take part in the gala event include Karen Akers, George Lee Andrews, Michael Arden, Ivy Austin, Becky Ann Baker, Kate Baldwin, Christine Baranski, Barbara Barrie, Laura Benanti, Polly Bergen, Rob Berman, Pat Birch, André Bishop, Blair Brown, Sidney J. Burgoyne, Kate Burton, Liz Callaway, Mario Cantone, Carolee Carmello, Patrick Cassidy, Michael Cerveris, Ted Chapin, Barbara Cook, Charlotte d'Amboise, Christina Dahl, Jason Danieley, Sam Davis, Jed Distler, Gregg Edelman, Melissa Errico, Raul Esparza, Harvey Evans, Chris Fenwick, Danielle Ferland, Leonard Fleischer, Freda Foh Shen, Alexander Gemignani, Joanna Gleason, Annie Golden, Randy Graff, Debbie Gravitte, David Green, John Guare, Mary Rodgers Guettel, Jonathan Hadary, Todd Haimes, Sheldon Harnick, Hudson Shad, Dana Ivey, Francis Jue, The Juilliard Choral Union (conducted by Judith Clurman), Judy Kaye, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, James Lapine, Darren Lee, Telly Leung, Andrew Lippa, Emily Loesser, Patti LuPone, Richard Maltby, Mackenzie Mauzy, Marin Mazzie, Lanny Meyers, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Beata Moon, Mark Nadler, James Naughton, Phyllis Newman, Daniel Jay Park, Mary Beth Peil, Bernadette Peters, Kurt Peterson, Lonny Price, Charlie Prince, Patrick Quinn, Angelina Reaux, Sarah Rice, Frank Rich, Tony Roberts, Marti Rolph, Josh Rosenblum, Jonathan Schwartz, Thomas Z. Shepard, Matt Sklar, David Staller, Marsha Perry Starkes, Georgia Stitt, KT Sullivan, Christina Sunnerstam, Kathleen Supové, Thom Warren, John Weidman, Joss Whedon, Richard White, B.D. Wong, the Ying Quartet, Nora York, Eric Jordan Young and Jerry Zaks.

The schedule for the afternoon, according to the official Symphony Space website, follows:

"11 AM-12 PM
Greetings and Overview
Isaiah Sheffer
Mayoral Proclamation
Proclamation of “Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim Day”

Into the Woods
An excerpt of the Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior production, introduced by MTI CEO Freddie Gershon

Some Early Sondheim
Early works including “The Two of You” and “A Very Short Violin Sonata”

12 PM-2 PM
(simulcast on WNYC and hosted by Jonathan Schwartz and Bernadette Peters)
Featuring Gregg Edelman, Sarah Rice, David Staller and Richard White

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Introduced by Jerry Zaks and featuring Michael Arden, Jonathan Hadary and Sheldon Harnick

Discussion: The Art of the Cast Album
Jonathan Schwartz hosts a discussion about Sondheim cast albums with Tommy Krasker and Thomas Z. Shepard

Solo Turns
Performances by Liz Callaway, Marsha Perry Starkes and KT Sullivan

More Comedy This Afternoon!
Featuring Kate Burton, Gregg Edelman and Phyllis Newman

The Ying Quartet
The Ying Quartet performs “Children Will Listen” and “Children and Art” arranged for string quartet by Andrew Lippa
Solo Turns:
Performances by Karen Akers and Kate Baldwin

2 PM-5 PM
A Talk with Steve
Jonathan Schwartz leads a discussion about collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine, Bernadette Peters and John Weidman

Scenes and songs from Sunday in the Park with George
Introduced by James Lapine and featuring Melissa Errico, Raul Esparza, Dana Ivey, Mary Beth Peil and Bernadette Peters

“Two-Piano Concertino”
Performed by Christina Dahl and Beata Moon

"Follies Suite," arranged for two pianos by Jed Distler, performed by Jed Distler and Kathleen Supové
Songs from Follies, introduced by Ted Chapin and featuring Michael Arden, Kate Baldwin and Thom Warren

Scenes and songs from Pacific Overtures
Introduced by John Guare, and featuring cast members of the recent Pacific Overtures revival

Introduced by Richard Maltby, and featuring Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn

The Ying Quartet
The Ying Quartet performs “Night Waltzes” arranged for string quartet by Michael Starobin

Nora York puts her inimitable stamp on Sondheim

5 PM-8 PM
Sondheim and American Popular Culture
Frank Rich moderates a discussion with Stephen Sondheim and Joss Whedon

Between-Shows Broadway
Solo performances by Broadway stars dashing uptown between Saturday performances, including George Lee Andrews, Carolee Carmello, Joanna Gleason, David Green, Judy Kaye and James Naughton

Introduced by Todd Haimes and featuring Becky Ann Baker, Sidney Burgoyne, Patrick Cassidy, Michael Cerveris, Alexander Gemignani, Annie Golden and David Green

The Ying Quartet
The Ying Quartet performs “Fear No More,” “I Know Things Now” and “Losing My Mind” arranged for string quartet and voice by Georgia Stitt, and featuring Kate Baldwin, Angelina Reaux and David Staller

Sondheim and Lyrics
Discussion with Jason Robert Brown, Richard Maltby and Georgia Stitt

Merrily We Roll Along
Introduction by Leonard Fleischer and Lonny Price, and featuring Ivy Austin, Sidney J. Burgoyne, Danielle Ferland, Alexander Gemignani and Emily Loesser

Sondheim the Waltz King
David Shire introduces performances of Sondheim waltzes by Randy Graff, Hudson Shad and Beata Moon

8 PM-11 PM
Orchestral Segment
Paul Gemignani leads a full orchestra in Sondheim favorites featuring Michael Arden, Ivy Austin, Kate Baldwin, Christine Baranski, Laura Benanti, Polly Bergen, Blair Brown, Michael Cerveris, Barbara Cook, Jason Danieley, Gregg Edelman, Raul Esparza, Harvey Evans, Randy Graff, Debbie Gravitte, Hudson Shad, the Juilliard Choral Union, conducted by Judith Clurman, Marc Kudisch, Emily Loesser, Patti LuPone, Mackenzie Mauzy, Marin Mazzie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kurt Peterson, Patrick Quinn, Marti Rolph and Thom Warren"

Admission to the concert is free, and patrons may sample a few moments or stay several hours. Symphony Space began its Wall to Wall series in 1978 with Wall to Wall Bach. Later versions of the marathon concept have focused on Mozart, Beethoven, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers.

Composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim has written a plethora of musicals, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Passion. He also contributed lyrics to West Side Story and Gypsy, and his new musical, Bounce, recently played Chicago and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His revised productions of The Frogs and Pacific Overtures were on Broadway stages earlier this season, and the 2004 staging of Assassins won five Tonys, including one for Best Revival of a Musical. Sondheim was also celebrated at the Kennedy Center with all star stagings of six of his musicals — Company, Sweeney, Merrily, Night Music, Sunday and Passion.

Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim will play the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, located in Manhattan at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. For more information, visit


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