‘Sondheim on Sondheim’ to play at PNC Theater

Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

Sondheim on Sondheim will be coming into the city, showcasing some of the best work from Stephen Sondheim.

Sondheim created some of the best music and instant classics such as Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and West Side Story. Sondheim’s work is still being performed today and the musical Sondheim on Sondheim is a compilation of some of his best works from various musicals he wrote.

The Conservatory Theatre Company is performing Sondheim on Sondheim at the PNC Theater on October 19-23, 2022 at 7:30 PM on Wednesday through Saturday and 2 PM on Sunday. General admission costs 35 dollars to attend.

Point Park theater major Will Cobb is amazed that he gets to help recreate Sondheim’s work with a talented cast. With Sondheim passing away in 2021 at the age of 91, Cobb and the cast want to give the audience something they can remember for Sondheim and what he did for musical theater.

“It’s such an honor to be able to get together with some super talented people and see his work,” Cobb said. “And it’s kind of the underlying mood throughout all the rehearsals is really doing everything for Sondheim and making sure we do our best to make his work as great as it can be.”

Point Park senior and musical theater major Calvin Cich can’t wait to see how the cast performs in the play. After getting to perform a production of Into the Woods, Cich sees what makes Sondheim stand out from the rest and believes that he is one of the greatest ever to write music for musical theater.

“I would apply it to probably the closest thing to Shakespeare that you can think of just because this man, he knows what he’s doing,” Cich said. “He knows how to write for an actor. He’s been with basically everyone. If you have to put together a dream team of Broadway actors like ever, I will guarantee you that 90% of them worked with Stephen Sondheim.”

Hannah Herford, an avid theater-goer and violist, elaborated on how important Sondheim was in musical theater.

“Asking if Sondheim had an impact on theater is like asking if the meteor that killed the dinosaurs left an impact on earth,” Herford said. “If you ask someone to name a famous musical, you’ll get an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical or a Sondheim musical.”

As for the musical coming in late October, the theater-goer will see his work and then some in the upcoming Sondheim on Sondheim.

“You get to hear from the man himself from Sondheim and it plays his own words and his own thoughts on every song which you don’t get in a regular show,” Cobb said. “You also get to learn a little bit of history too about the songs and why they were written.”

With a tech team who has the musical down to a science, they have found a way to make sure that Sondheim is involved. The theater-goer won’t just get to hear Sondheim’s work.

“You’ll get to see Mr. Sondheim,” Cobb said. “We have a very talented tech team. It’s going to make it a very visual experience as well.”

Each of Sondheim’s musicals has its own uniqueness. For the cast of Sondheim on Sondheim, they get to make their own spin on his work.

“It’s an overarching view of his career and his life but there’s no story or plot,” Cobb said. “So the way it’s so interesting to see how we’re able to kind of create little moments and create our own kind of twist on everything and create our own mark on this story because it gives so much room for your own creativity.”

Cobb added that hearing Sondheim made rehearsals emotional and heavy after hearing all his interviews and tidbits. He believes that the theater-goer will have a lot of emotions while watching the musical.

“You can expect to laugh,  you can expect to cry, you can expect to see some incredible incredible performances and some really great music,” Cobb said. “Any musical theater lover’s dream.”

Herford,  who grew up watching her mother Jennifer perform for the Comtra Theater, added that Sondheim’s musicals are always entertaining because the character has to face their undoing.

“Sondheim almost always makes his music weave and loop back together like a tapestry, you know what musical you’re listening to almost all the time,” Herford said. “His characters and audience are forced to reconcile with the protagonist’s consequences and what that means for them which is always so satisfying.”

Cich can’t wait to watch the musical as they perform Sonheim’s best work. He knows it’s in good hands and believes the cast list is stellar.

“I knew Zeva Barzell, and James Cunningham, who are the directors, were going to put them through a rigorous audition process,” Cich said. “I knew they were put to the test and I think they chose a really, really incredible cast of just hardworking individuals who are just going to knock it out of the water.”