London Celebrates Stephen Sondheim’s 80th Birthday

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As American composers and lyricists go, Stephen Sondheim is pretty special.

He’s won an Oscar, 8 Tony Awards, multiple Grammys and a Pulitzer Prize. And this year, he turns 80.

London’s theatreland has responded to the great man’s milestone birthday with a host of special shows in his honour. This summer, if you’re a Sondheim fan in London, you’re in luck!

Here’s just some of the Sondheim you can see in London now and in the coming months:

  • Assassins at the Union Theatre from 30 Jun-24 Jul

Sondheim’s multi-Tony award-winning show Assassins uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue-style portrayal of the historical figures who tried to assassinate Presidents of the United States.

As well as rarely performed gems from his major musicals such as Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods, this show features treasures from Sondheim’s less familiar shows such as Anyone Can Whistle and Evening Primrose.

Fifty of the country’s most talented youngsters take to a converted warehouse in London’s East End to perform Sondheim’s horror-opera, Sweeney Todd. The National Youth Music Theatre’s latest show is led by director Martin Constantine, whose previous credits include English National Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Into The Woods weaves together the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, with a tale about a baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family. Hannah Waddingham, Jenna Russell and Helen Dallimore star.

On the bill are excerpts from horror-opera Sweeney Todd, the Ingmar Bergman-inspired A Little Night Music and the fairy-tale compendium of Into the Woods, as well as excerpts from Company and Sunday in the Park with George. The cast includes Bryn Terfel, Maria Friedman, Simon Russell Beale and Julian Ovenden.

  • Passion at the Donmar Warehouse from 10 Sep-27 Nov

The Donmar’s birthday offering is Passion, set in 19th-century Italy, all about obsession, beauty, power, manipulation, illness, and love. And stars Elena Roger, Scarlett Strallen and David Thaxton.

  • Sondheim at 80 at the Donmar Warehouse from 16 Sep-7 Nov

The Donmar hosts a range of Sondheim-inspired events, including an evening with the man himself, a conversation with Michael Grandage and Sam Mendes about staging Sondheim at the Donmar, and concert performances of Company and Merrily We Roll Along.

Have you spotted any more Sondheim celebrations planned for London in 2010? Let us know.