Sondheim tribute screening Friday

Great Performances: Sondheim - The Birthday Concert

Great Performances: Sondheim - The Birthday Concert

In anticipation of the 54th Medal Day at The MacDowell Colony honoring Stephen Sondheim on Aug. 11, the public is invited to a special screening of “Sondheim! The Birthday Concert” at The Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The concert is an historic tribute to the Broadway work of Stephen Sondheim that took place in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall in March 2010 on the occasion of the composer’s 80th birthday. The selections, featuring the New York Philharmonic conducted by Paul Gemignani, a longtime Sondheim collaborator, showcase songs and a parade of stage, film and television stars as they sing their parts from favorite shows such as “Company” (1970), “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music” (1973), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Merrily We Roll Along” (1981), “Sunday in the Park With George” (1984) and “Into the Woods” (1987).

The film and concert originally aired on the PBS program “Great Performances” in November 2010. At the time of the broadcast, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, “While such celebrations tend to be messy affairs, ‘Sondheim: The Birthday Concert’ ... was a model of organization, with a suave host ... and witty leitmotifs woven into its structure. Performances by an all-star guest list ... proceeded at a brisk pace; there was no speechifying.”

This year marks the first Medal Day to celebrate a luminary of musical theater. Sondheim’s generous offering of his talents to the stage made him a clear choice with the Edward MacDowell Medal Selection Committee.

The birthday concert to be screened at MacDowell Downtown is hosted by David Hyde Pierce. Highlights include performances by opera and Broadway stars Audra McDonald, Nathan Gunn and Patti Lupone, as well as Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. There are several reunions of the leads from original Broadway casts and the show closes with hundreds of actors singing “Sunday” to Sondheim.

The show is a rare and overwhelming tribute to a man who has entertained so many theatergoers for so many years. The public will have the opportunity to hear and see for themselves why this year’s Edward MacDowell Medal winner is so deserving of the honor.

MacDowell Downtown, a series of free presentations by MacDowell Colony artists, is presented the first Friday of each month from March to November. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, see www.macdowellcolony.

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