Entertainment for a “Weekend in the Country”

The original cast of A Little Night Music perform “A Weekend in the Country” (1973)

I hope your summer is providing you with at least one “weekend in the country.” If you can’t get away, perhaps a few videos will give you the necessary refreshment. Start with this jaunty performance from the 2010 BBC Proms salute to “Sondheim at 80” performed by some of Great Britain’s best musical theater performances.

Young performers always give me hope for the future. Here’s some recent evidence: The Sondheim tribute that was part of the 2022 Jimmy Awards, the national high school musical theater award program presented on June 27. The award ceremony showcased outstanding performances by teens from across the U.S. Their Sondheim compendium is a remarkable eight-minute compilation of material from Sunday in the Park with George, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, West Side Story, Into the Woods, A Little Night Music and many more. “Broadway Babies” indeed.

How about an exuberant rendition of the Merrily We Roll Along overture by Charlie Rosen’s Broadway Big Band. They performed it at 54 Below on August 22, 2015, with Rosen conducting from the string bass.

I love this breathtaking, intimate duet of “Losing My Mind” from Follies and “Not a Day Goes By” sung by Jenna Russell and Rosalie Craig. Russell, a leading British musical theater star (we saw her on Broadway as Dot in the 2008 revival of Sunday in the Park with George), sings with Craig, who originated the “Bobbie” role in Marianne Elliott’s London premiere of the gender-switched production of Company.

Speaking of that award-winning modernization of Company — which recently earned the 2022 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival — here’s a dose of Bobbie’s boyfriends singing “You Could Drive a Person Crazy.” It’s introduced by Katrina Lenk, the Broadway production’s Bobbie.

Last year when The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia was published, Joe Donahue from Northeast Public Radio (WAMC/Albany and 12 other stations) interviewed me about the book. Our conversation was rebroadcast recently. Joe’s a fine interviewer, so here’s your chance to hear our 24-minute “Round Table”

When the Encyclopedia was published, ago David Meyers talked with me for a feature in The Algemeiner Journal, a newspaper based in New York City that covers American and international Jewish news. Recently he sent me a ringing endorsement (I’m still blushing). “I read Rick Pender’s Sondheim encyclopedia literally from cover to cover,” he wrote. “It’s an incredible book that contains a wealth of trivia, history, biography, and general knowledge. From the fascinating personal biographies to the incredibly detailed song analyses featuring Sondheim’s notes, and much more, the scope of the book is breathtaking. Even as I was reading it, I was looking forward to reading it again in the future. My only complaint: I truly wish it was longer.”

Perhaps David’s kind words will inspire you to let friends and acquaintances know about The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia. It’s easy to order via my website. I’m all about spreading the Gospel according to Stephen!

Have a great summer!

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