DVD Review: SONDHEIM! The Broadway Concert

For all of you unlucky souls who couldn’t be there, Image Entertainment has released SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert, a DVD and Blu-ray of the concert held this March at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in honor of the famed theater composer’s 80th birthday.  


Featuring longtime Sondheim collaborator Paul Gemignani conducting the New York Philharmonic, the droll comic hosting of actor David Hyde Pierce and a gallery of theater stars, including many veterans of Sondheim productions, this is a rapturous event, providing the opportunity to hear the composer’s music performed by a lush, full orchestra. 


Among the many highlights are Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters movingly reuniting for “Move On” from Sunday in the Park With George; John McMartin reprising his decades-ago rendition of “The Road You Didn’t Take” from Follies, and the duet between two generations of Sweeney Todds, Michael Cerveris and George Hearn, on “Pretty Women.”


There are also rarities for the true Sondheim obsessives. Victoria Clark sings “Don’t Laugh” from the little known Judy Holliday musical Hot Spot; Laura Benanti performs “So Many People” from the rarely seen Saturday Night; and Audra McDonald does a version of “The Glamorous Life” that was originally written for the film version of A Little Night Music.


You’ll share the live audience’s excitement as Pierce warbles “Beautiful Girls” while a procession of Broadway divas—LuPone, McDonald, Peters, Marin Mazzie, Donna Murphy and Elaine Stritch—sashay onto the stage wearing stunning red dresses (well, Stritch is in a pantsuit). The solo numbers that follow include LuPone’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” and Stritch’s triumphant “I’m Still Here.”


The finale, featuring an army of Broadway gypsies marching into the auditorium and delivering a soaring choral rendition of “Sunday,” is likely to move you to tears. 


Image Entertainment. $24.98 (DVD), $29.98 (Blu-ray). www.image-entertainment.com.