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Sondheim! The Birthday Concert [Blu-ray]

4.7 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Join us for a rousing celebration of the life and work of one of Broadway�s greatest legends � the one and only Stephen Sondheim. For the master composer and lyricist�s 80th birthday, many of musical theater�s brightest stars gathered to perform more than two dozen sensational numbers from Sondheim�s illustrious career. Many of these enduring songs are rarely heard and several are performed by the original Broadway cast members. David Hyde Pierce hosts this magical event with Stephen Sondheim�s longtime collaborator Paul Gemignani conducting the New York Philharmonic.

Filmed live, March 15�16, 2010 at Avery Fisher Hall, New York City

Performances Include:

  • "America" (Dancers, West Side Story)
  • "Something�s Coming" (Alexander Gemingnani, West Side Story)
  • "We�re Gonna Be Alright" (Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Do I Hear a Waltz?)
  • "Don�t Laugh" (Victoria Clark, Hot Spot)
  • "Johanna"(Nathan Gunn, Sweeney Todd)
  • "You�re Gonna Love Tomorrow" and "Love Will See Us Through" (Matt Cavenaugh, Jenn Colella, Laura Osnes, Bobby Steggert, Follies)
  • "Too Many Mornings" (Nathan Gunn, Audra McDonald, Follies)
  • "The Road You Didn�t Take" (John McMartin, Follies)
  • "It Takes Two" (Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Into the Woods)
  • "Growing Up" (Jim Walton, Merrily We Roll Along)
  • "Finishing the Hat" (Mandy Patinkin, Sunday in the Park with George)
  • "Move On" (Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Sunday in the Park with George)
  • "Pretty Women" (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Sweeney Todd)
  • "A Little Priest" (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Sweeney Todd)
  • �Theme from �Reds�� with Pas De Deux (NY Philharmonic, Two ABT Dancers Maria and Blaine)
  • "So Many People" (Laura Benanti, Saturday Night)
  • "Beautiful Girls" (David Hyde Pierce)
  • "Ladies Who Lunch" (Patti LuPone, Company)
  • "Losing My Mind" (Marin Mazzie� Follies)
  • "The Glamorous Life" (Audra McDonald, A Little Night Music)
  • "Could I Leave You?" (Donna Murphy, Follies)
  • "Not a Day Goes By" (Bernadette Peters, Merrily We Roll Along)
  • "I�m Still Here" (Elaine Stritch, Follies)
  • "Sunday" (Broadway Chorus, Sunday in the Park with George)
  • "Happy Birthday" (All Cast)

  • Special Features

  • Liner notes

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin
    • Directors: Lonny Price
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      NR
      Not Rated
    • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
    • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2010
    • Run Time: 116 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00404ME24
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,796 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 25, 2010
    Format: DVD
    As a bit of a theater nerd, I believe I have seen every tribute to Stephen Sondheim ever created--and let's be honest, that's too many to count these days! But seriously, what's not to love? And why not? With such a terrific oeuvre, I'm not complaining. Even so, I found "Sondheim: The Birthday Concert" to be especially effective. Most of these retrospectives feature the top echelon of talent--and this is certainly no exception. What was refreshing, however, were the more unusual selections to make it into the concert. There weren't the typical warhorses you might expect (nary a "Clown" in sight). Heck, you know things have gone wonky when one of the featured numbers is a dance to the "Theme to 'Reds'." All in all, then, the surprises are what make this particularly noteworthy.

    The absolutely transcendent highlight of the show comes near the end as six actresses square off center stage. But before I get to that, I'll just say that David Hyde Pearce is a nimble host. The earlier moments that stood out for me are the pairings--Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley are a delight, Joanna Gleason and Chip Zien have a charming reunion from "Into the Woods" and Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin slay with a powerful selection from "Sunday in the Park With George." But truly, no one hits a wrong note here--the entire production is spot-on.

    But the Diva sing off is beyond words. With Peters, Mazzie, Donna Murphy, Patty LuPone, Audra McDonald, and Elaine Stritch--you think I'm going to say I didn't like it? Not a chance. LuPone is strong, McDonald (one of my all time favorites) is precise, and Stritch belts out her signature number to crowd pleasing perfection (however, it is the third concert this year where I've seen her do it).
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    I was lucky enough to be there as well and I have to say... buy this without a question. Totally magical, David Hyde Pierce was a marvelous emcee, and the cast was obviously star-studded. Only Stephen Sondheim's birthday could bring these amazing performers together. Worth it just for the overwhelming finale; I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience. Just buy it.
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    if only to see and hear "Losing My Mind" (Marin Mazzie- Follies)SHOW-STOPPER!!! and "The Glamorous Life" (Audra McDonald- A Little Night Music), "Leave You" (Donna Murphy- Follies), "Not a Day Goes By" (Bernadette Peters- Merrily We Roll Along), "I'm Still Here" (Elaine Stritch- Follies).

    Living proof that musical-theatre can indeed be ART!
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    "Sondheim: The Birthday Concert," filmed at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) in New York City this past March, is the most recent in the string of 'Great Performances' telecasts conceived in part by conductor Paul Gemignani. Previous credits include 'Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall,' and the two 'My Favorite Broadway' revues-'The Leading Ladies' (Carnegie Hall), and 'The Love Songs' (City Center). While 'The Birthday Concert' is certainly a must for the die-hard Sondheim fanatic-myself included-the series of musical selections is a bit more subdued than usually expected from Gemignani. Each of his previous well-known revues featured multiple showstoppers, including multiple numbers highlighting not only the vocal talent, but the power and versatility of the orchestra, a feature unique to the orchestra-on-stage model of the revue. Unlike his previous compilations, including those exclusively dedicated to Sondheim, 'The Birthday Concert' focuses on rarely-heard works, performances by original cast members in original roles (with less than their original power), and the dynamism the defines Sondheim's collected body of work. For the Sondheim novice, much of the significance could be easily lost. For the Sondheim veteran, 'The Birthday Concert' is a dream come true.

    Ironically, the highlight of the first act is a hard-hitting, emotional performance of 'Too Many Mornings' from FOLLIES, by powerhouses Audra McDonald and Nathan Gunn-two artists not remotely associated with Sondheim's work on Broadway. Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin revisit original roles in 'Move On' from SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, by far the best-sung of the "originals" section of the evening.
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    My aunt and I were there as the concert was filmed live. It was definitely a memorable evening. It's as if time stood still as brilliant performers recreated their legendary performances such as Bernadette and Mandy singing "Move On" from "Sunday in The Park" and the baker and his wife- Chip Zien (one of the nicest people to meet in person) and Joanna Gleason singing "It Takes Two" from "Into The Woods." Patti sings "Ladies Who Lunch" in front of Elaine Stritch and Elaine performed "I'm Still Here" as the finale. (I wish they would have swapped songs.) And Bernadette did "Not A Day Goes By," again.
    Nothing from Gypsy but Sondheim didn't write the music.

    It was a historical night we'll never forget. And we met Dr. Ruth who was sitting next to us!
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    There are more concerts and Revues to celebrate the music of Stephen Sondheim's works than most composers wrote shows. They began with thye best, "Side By Side By Sondheim" in 1977 in London and made it stand out because they took the three greatest English performers alive and utilized a LOT of music that Sondheim fans had never heard. Then "Putting It Together", "Marry Me a Little", "Celebrate Sondheim", "Sonddheim at Carnegie Hall", "Bernadete Peters sings Sondheim", "Barbara Cook: Mostly Sondheim"- for God's sake, even Madonoa sang Sondheim at the Oscars, quivering with nerves over material tha was far too hard for her- but even Barbara Cook has cursed over the challenge of singing Sondheim. ("It's these damn INTERVALS!" she exclaimed as she rehearsed for the 1095 famous "Follies in Concert" filmed and recorded live at Avery Fisher Hall-yet another)

    On March 22, 2010, Stephen Sondheim turned 80 years old and David Hyde Pierce, Chip Zien, Lonny Price and Paul Gemignani arranged a concert in his honor. This was a concert to please him, not the public. We didn't hear "Broadway Baby" again; We were not forced to listen to one more amazing singer sing "Send In the Clowns" (a song that is so eassy to sing that Strohm Thurman could've recorded it) and instead we had the New York Philharmonic, Hyde Pierce's comic reparte' and the finest most famous theatre performers in history to do a live birthday concert for him which, fortunately, was beautifully filmed and is now, without question, the greatest evening of Sondheim to date.

    There are moments of revisiting the original: Mandy Patinklin and Bernadete Peters singing "Move on", Johanna Gleason and Chip Zien" with "it Takes Two", and the new cast performance of "America" which was as good, if not better than the original.
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