What’s not to like about Sondheim? From West Side Story to Sweeney Todd, he’s the Broadway god of the last half century. So I was delighted to hear that Theatre Ancaster was doing Side by Side, a Sondheim review at the Firehall. In fact they are so committed to Sondheim that they’re staging A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in November.
The Firehall is set up like a nightclub, with tables and snacks and a bar. We relax into an evening of 29 songs, introduced by a narrator and chosen to excite, amuse and please. There are many highlights. Andy Blackwood and Jane Duncan have wicked Sweeny Todd fun while singing ‘A Little Priest’. Raif Hakenberg’s rendition of ‘Being Alive’ from Company gains power when sung by an older man (whom we assume is conflicted about starting over again). The very talented Rob Evans and Jane Duncan are perfect singing ‘Barcelona’ about a one night stand. Comical Aimee Kessler–Evans nails ‘The Boy From’ (a send up of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’), and Melissa Dolson is fiery in ‘I Never Do Anything Twice’ ( the proud declaration of a very game call girl).’Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Losing my Mind’ are Sondheim show stoppers, and Chantal Barrow handles them with grace, her voice a future powerhouse.
The talent, coaching and directing are strong (Lindsay Croxall and Andy Blackwood). And Sondheim’s lyrics knock your socks off.
A happy night out. What’s not to like? V
SIDE BY SIDE
Sept. 27 & 28, 8pm.
Presented by Theatre Ancaster
@ The Old Firehall Arts Centre,
334 Wilson St. E., Ancaster.