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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Musical > Tribute > Standards > Showtunes > TV > Sondheim! The Birthday Concert (2010/Image Blu-ray + DVD) + Evening Primrose (1967/eOne/E1 DVD)

Sondheim!The Birthday Concert (2010/Image Blu-ray + DVD) + Evening Primrose (1967/eOne DVD)

 

Picture: B-/C+/C†††† Sound: B+/B-/C+†††† Extras: C/B-†††† Concert: B†††† Musical: B-

 

 

Taped in March of 2010, some of the biggest stars in Broadway history still with us gathered to pay tribute to the great music writer, storytelling and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.Sondheim! The Birthday Concert (2010) is an amazing celebration that is also a rare event.Now on Blu-ray and DVD from Image Entertainment, here is a list of the performances including who sang what and which work the given song comes from:

"America" (Dancers, West Side Story)

"Somethingís Coming" (Alexander Gemingnani, West Side Story)

"Weíre Gonna Be Alright" (Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Do I Hear A Waltz?)

"Donít Laugh" (Victoria Clark, Hot Spot)

"Johanna"(Nathan Gunn, Sweeney Todd)

"Youíre 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 Didnít 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)

ďA Little Priest" (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Sweeney Todd)

ďTheme from ĎRedsíĒ with Pas De Deux (NY Philharmonic, ABT Dancers Maria Riccetto and Blaine Hoven)

"So Many People" (Laura Benanti, Saturday Night)

"Beautiful Girls" (David Hyde Pierce, Follies)

"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)

"Iím Still Here" (Elaine Stritch, Follies)

"Sunday" (Broadway Chorus, Sunday in the Park with
George
)

"Happy Birthday" (entire cast)

 

 

David Hyde Pierce hosted this event and it is probably one of the most important in years, bringing this community together at a time it needed it as things have not been as good as they could be in the country and in New York City.Paul Gemignani conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the nearly two-hour show is loaded with energy, classics, great performances by some of the greatest stars musical history and some new up and coming names we hope become bigger names.

 

The other twist is that most of the Sondheim shows have never been made into home video releases and it is very rare they are even taped, let alone filmed.I liked this tribute very much and it is one of the best of late to date in any of the arts we have seen.

 

One program Sondheim contributed to not represented here is Evening Primrose, a Twilight Zone type tale of a poet who discovers that when the doors of a department store closes, the mannequins come to life.Sondheim wrote four songs for the piece, including When?, If You Can Find Me, Iím Here, I Remember and Take Me To The World.The 1966 TV version ABC broadcast as part of their ABC Stage 67 series has been uncovered and it is a real find.Anthony Perkins is the poet, Charmian Carr his love interest he discovers there and a solid supporting cast in this black and white version produced by the legendary John Houseman.

 

Paul Bogart directed and it is amazing what a great piece this is, lost in a vault for far too long, even to the point it was forgotten in the Birthday show.James Goldman wrote the teleplay and to see something of this quality come from a major network today would be extremely unlikely, but that was the golden age of TV then, when even the major networks cared.Now, you are lucky if something like this shows up on PBS or cable.

 

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Birthday has good color and is well shot, but some motion blur and a little more that I would have liked, while the anamorphically enhanced DVD is a little softer and less defined, but watchableThe DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray is the biggest surprise, richly recorded, with an exceptional soundfield that is one of the best of any love stage Blu-ray we have covered to date and that in the face of dozens of classical and opera titles.It puts the live into live and though the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD is weaker, the soundmaster is the same for both and impressive.The only extra on both versions is a paper pullout with an essay by Lonny Price on Sondheim and his legacy.

 

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Primrose was shot on black and white reel to reel videotape (with some 16mm inserts) and shows its age with haloing and limited definition, yet looks like one of the six Season Two episodes of Twilight Zone (1960 Ė 61, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) with its somewhat dark lighting.The result is style winning out over some flaws.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is a little better, cleaned up without being overly compressed.Extras include a 28-page booklet loaded with information about the production, a letter from Sondheim himself, lyrics and other technical information including how it was uncovered, while the DVD adds Director Bogartís full color test footage (filmed) with Perkins, new video interview with Bogart and new audio interview with Carr.

 

All in all, these releases continue the nice amount of quality Sondheim product for the home.We also recommend these releases:

 

Company (Blu-ray)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7080/Company:+A+Musical+Comedy+(Imag

 

Putting It Together (Import PAL DVD, also available on US DVD)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9416/Stephen+Sondheim%E2%80%99s+Put

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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