Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

Luke Yankee Wants Us to Pretend

October 10th, 2016

Luke Yankee

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment begins performances on Wednesday. They have been holding rehearsals for the last three weeks to make sure this technically difficult play is executed without error. This adventure tale of the high seas is being helmed under the direction of Luke Yankee. We asked him some questions about his work on this imaginatively staged show, and he was kind enough to respond. Enjoy!

1. Since you have directed at ICT before, what has your experience been like this time around?

Every cast has a unique energy and a very different set of dynamics. I can honestly say, the cast of Shipwrecked! is one of the kindest, most generous, loving, talented and respectful group of actors I have ever worked with.  And I have been doing this a LONG time! Jud Williford, Laurine Price and Nick Ley are extraordinary people AND brilliant actors. This play takes tremendous precision and teamwork and they are all there for one another. It is a pleasure to go to rehearsal every day! I know this strong feeling of community among them makes them into a stronger acting ensemble and will be reflected in their performances.

2. As someone who also is a playwright, how does that influence your approach as a director?

Obviously, I have tremendous respect for the written word. Donald Margulies’ script is so strong (and incredibly detailed), I have encouraged the actors to trust the text. Most of the answers they are looking for are right there on the page.

Jud Williford and Nick Ley in Shipwrecked! An Entertainment

Jud Williford, Laurine Price and Nick Ley in Shipwrecked!

3. What do you have to say about this style of theatre where actors play many roles between them? Is there something unique that this type of theatre offers audiences?

As a director, it is one of the most challenging pieces I have ever done. You have three actors who never leave the stage. They create all of the sound effects and play more than 40 characters. Thank goodness I am also a dialect coach! To make it look simple and easy, it takes incredible accuracy and concentration.  These actors truly have their work cut out for them. Shipwrecked! also has a tremendous sense of fun about it. It’s like the little boy standing on a kitchen chair and saying, “Look mommy! I’m a pirate on a ship!”  It speaks to the childlike innocence and sense of play in all of us.

4. Since he is one of the most celebrated playwrights of the modern era, what do you think makes Donald Margulies such a respected playwright?

I had the great pleasure of getting to know Donald when he was honored at the William Inge Theatre Festival, where I am on the advisory board. Aside from being a lovely man, he is a gifted writer. His work has great passion, great humanity and it reveals the human condition, our frailties and vulnerabilities in a very unique way. It is a pleasure to work on one of his plays.

5. What do you hope audiences take from seeing Shipwrecked!?

While most of the play is incredibly fun and lighthearted, it also makes a strong statement about how we treat celebrities in our culture. We build them up just to tear them down when they get too famous and powerful. It is a ‘message play”, but it speaks more to the world of “let’s pretend” and harkens back to a simpler time. Couldn’t we all use that in our lives?

Shipwrecked! runs October 12 through November 6. For more information or to purchase tickets: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

Stephen Rockwell: It’s Funniest When it Touches on the Truth

June 24th, 2016

Stephen Rockwell

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now in its third week of a four-week run, has been making audiences laugh since it began performances June 8. Our Tony-winning Best Play can owe much of the show’s success to its endlessly talented cast. One of those cast members, Stephen Rockwell, who plays Vanya, was asked some questions about his work in this hilarious production, and he was gracious enough to respond. Enjoy!

1.  As someone who is new to working at ICT,  how has your experience been?

It has been wonderful working at ICT for the first time. Everyone who works for the theatre from caryn on down has been extremely supportive and nurturing. They’ve provided us with the atmosphere and the tools we need to do our work and bring this delightful and meaningful play to life. And I love the gorgeous theatre space!

2. What kind of preparation outside of learning your lines did you undertake in preparing for the role of Vanya?

In preparation for playing Vanya I began by re-reading the four major works of Anton Chekhov (The Seagull, The Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard). I’ve been fortunate to have been in all four plays at one time or another, but I wanted to remind myself of the plots, the characters and the themes. I also did an extensive character autobiography of Vanya to have a strong sense of his backstory and the nature of his relationships, especially with his sisters.

Leslie Stevens, Stephen Rockwell and Jennifer Parsons in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at ICT
Photo Credit:

3. Vanya is a role that many actors would love the chance to play. What other role(s) would you like to undertake?

Like most actors I have a long wish list. But interestingly, I have always wanted to play Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and would love to have a crack at it after playing Mr. Durang’s version of the character. I would also love to have a chance to play Jamie in Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten and either Bohr or Heisenberg in Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen.

4. Performing comedy in the theatre is a very difficult task to undertake. What do you think is the key to make an audience laugh?

As they say “Dying is easy and comedy is hard.” I’m not the first to say that it’s all in the timing, which it is, but delivery has something to do with it as well. And in the end, I think it’s funniest if it touches on the truth in some way. We were so fortunate to have a gifted director like Mary Jo [DuPrey] who really understands the craft and helped us to find the right timing and delivery, as well as the truth inside the laughs.

5.  What do you hope audiences take from seeing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?

First and foremost, I hope that audiences enjoy themselves. The play is extremely funny and is meant to entertain. But it also deals with changes that have taken place in our society over the past half century. I hope that after laughing their heads off, that audiences will go home thinking about and discussing those changes and what they mean to our culture and our society.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs through July 3. For more information or to purchase tickets: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

Mary Jo DuPrey Loves Command of Complex Language

June 15th, 2016

Mary Jo DuPrey

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now in its second week of a four-week run, has received a wonderful response from audiences since it opened. Our critically acclaimed production is led under the direction of Mary Jo DuPrey. We asked her some questions about her work on this side-splitting show, and she was kind enough to respond. Enjoy!

1.  Since this is your first time directing at ICT, what has your experience been like?

Directing at ICT has been so wonderful.  ICT is dedicated to bringing the very best scripts to stage with the very best actors in town, which is always a pleasure for a director!

2. As someone who has also acted, how does that influence your approach as a director?

I think being an actor gives you a very good platform to work with actors because you have the ability to imagine the approach an actor may take and that provides a very good start for conversation about script and character.  Also, training as an actor gives you the proper vocabulary and understanding to communicate with actors in a way that is meaningful and useful to them.

Leslie Stevens, Stephen Rockwell, Connor McRaith and Jennifer Parsons in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at ICT.
Photo Credit:

3. Is there added pressure when directing a play with accolades such as Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?

Yes, of course, there is that pressure because many people have seen the play and have very strong ties to the original.  On the other hand, the play often receives those accolades because the writing is so good, and it’s always easier to direct a great script than an average one.

4. Since he is one of the most prolific playwrights of the modern era, what do you think makes Christopher Durang such a respected playwright?

I think Durang is one of the few modern playwrights who has such an unerring command of complex language.  The more we delved into this script, the more the actors and I discovered the need to be letter perfect and not paraphrase because even the slightest misplaced word lessened the work.  He is so witty and erudite, and works with language in a way that one rarely sees anymore.

5.  What do you hope audiences take from seeing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?

Well, I think the kernel of the play is inside Vanya’s monologue in which he bemoans the current state of American culture, but, unlike Chekhov, Durang gives a more hopeful, optimistic solution to modern angst, and that is to find refuge in family and those you love.  I think that way, it’s not unlike The Wizard of Oz.  “There’s no place like home.”  Though ‘home’ may mean different things for different people, it is essentially, very true.

For more information or to purchase tickets to Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

Kevin Bailey: Never Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

March 4th, 2016


Kevin Bailey in ICT’s Closer Than Ever

Closer Than Ever opened at International City Theatre on February 12. After wooing audiences for almost a month, the show will close this Sunday. We were lucky enough to meet with veteran actor and cast member Kevin Bailey to ask him some questions about the show and theatre as a w hole. Please enjoy!

1. As someone who has worked at ICT before, how has your experience been this time?

This is my third show for ICT. If ICT were a restaurant, I’d give my experience a Michelin Three Star Award!  I have had another exceptional theatre experience worthy of a special journey. As had my past experiences at ICT, this journey started with the very best of professionals from all creative departments: an outstanding Director (Todd Nielsen) and Musical Director (Gerry Sternbach), a dream cast to perform with, and the ICT production staff to brilliantly put it together. By its very nature, creating theater magic requires many chefs in the kitchen working together to make the fare superior to watch and enjoy. caryn desai is the master chef who gives the rest of us the room to do (what I hope) is our very best work!

2. What do you hope audiences take from Closer Than Ever?

Closer Than Ever is a tricky little musical — very easy to underestimate the way it unfolds. I would like audiences to see themselves in at least one, and ideally many, of the relationships displayed in each of the songs, as each one is a story unto itself.  If someone is able to identify with a specific character or a theme, then they will be moved to smile, laugh and even shed a tear.  The music and lyrics are simply that powerful.

3. Which song is your favorite to perform and why?

Okay , I hope you’ll allow me two — I know that’s cheating.  Of course, getting to perform the anthem, “If I Sing,” is without compare.  It brings up every single feeling I have about my own dad and the unwavering support he has been to me every day of my life.  But, I also get this humorous and contemplative song about a relationship that has lost its spark titled, “There.”  It’s a great song to act each night and I get to perform it with a theater giant, Valerie Perri.  That’s what we refer to as Heaven on stage!!

4. You have had an impressive career in musical theatre. What do you love about this art form?

Only in theater do you get to know immediately that you have made a difference to your audience and “moved them” in some way. They may laugh, they may cry , they may simply smile; but something is happening in the moment and in the next moment and those moments impact all the moments after that.  It is never the same from one night to the next, at least not entirely.  Similar, yes,  but it’s the difference that is exciting and working to have an impact each night is the gift of theater to me.

5. If your life was a musical, what would it be called?

If I could make up my own title it would be, “Blessed.” Otherwise, I hope you will allow me the answer, “Lucky Guy.” Those titles best represent how I feel about my journey.

Closer Than Ever runs through March 6. For more information or to purchase tickets: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

Valerie Perri Can’t Ask For Anything More

March 2nd, 2016

Valerie Perri performing in Closer That Ever. Photo Credit: Tracey Roman

Closer Than Ever opened three weeks ago at International City Theatre. Response has been fantastic, and many comments have been made about the cast and their beautiful voices. We checked in with veteran actress and Closer Than Ever cast member Valerie Perri to ask her some questions about the show. She was sweet enough to oblige.

1. As someone who has worked at ICT before, how has your experience been this time?

Equally outstanding and professional! Also, ICT continues to produce the most interesting and challenging plays and musicals, which ultimately makes the experience very satisfying to perform.

2. What do you hope audiences take from Closer Than Ever?

We walk through many doors in our lifetime. There is always a new experience and challenge that presents itself over each threshold. Enjoy it! Don’t let fear ever stop you from the journey that is YOURS and awaits behind each and every door you open!

3. Which song is your favorite to perform and why?

I guess if I had to choose one it would be “Life Story.”  I enjoy the simplicity of sitting on a stool, and having a heart to heart with the audience. It’s the journey of a divorced woman who’s had to raise her son alone, accepting the challenges and the sometimes regret she’s felt along the way, but, ultimately her choices and experiences have made her a stronger person, today.

4. Close Than Ever addresses a lot of different life experiences that every person goes through at some point in their life. Which song in the show touches you the most?

“Patterns” was a difficult song for me during the rehearsal process as I remembered the early days of raising my twins when there was a certain daily schedule to follow and so much of the “sameness” that it was so easy to personally lose a sense of myself in the day to day minutia. It’s frightening how narrow your world can become in those formative years. I felt it was so important to be present for my children and subsequently took time off from my career to make it all about them. Today, as an actress, it’s nice to have a memory bank that holds that information so I can tap the feelings necessary to illuminate the story I am telling.

5. If your life was a musical, what would it be called?

“The Exquisite Beauty of a Well-Balanced Life”

It took a lot of work along the way, and like all of us, I’ve had my share of bumps, bruises and disappointments. Yet today,  I enjoy good health and being happily married. I take great pleasure and pride in our two magnificent sons,  a beautiful home filled with music and harmony, and I continue to pursue my artistic life by performing in plays, musicals, symphony concerts, television and film. Who could ask for anything more?

For more information or to purchase tickets to Closer Than Ever: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

Adam von Almen is Happy to be Standing

February 26th, 2016

Adam Von Almen in Closer Than Ever at ICT

Adam von Almen in Closer Than Ever at ICT

Closer Than Ever, which opened two weeks ago to kickoff International City Theatre’s 2016 season, has been winning fans nightly. Much of that can be attributed to the endlessly talented cast. We were able to sit with cast member Adam von Almen and ask him some questions about his work on this show, and he was kind enough to respond. Enjoy!

1. As someone who has worked at ICT before, how has your experience been this time?

Working at ICT this time around is COMPLETELY different, mainly because of the material. My previous production was The Heir Apparent, a French farce, spoken completely in rhyming couplets, and Closer Than Ever is a contemporary musical theater piece. I also performed the whole show of The Heir Apparent on my knees, which is also a perk to this current production. Ha! But I jumped at the chance to come back to ICT because, whether the material is a play or a musical, caryn always picks shows that contain challenging and emotional roles for an actor, and Closer Than Ever is no exception. It’s a behemoth of a sing, but so rewarding! I’m so happy ICT subscribers get to see me actually put my music degree to use this time too!

2. What do you hope audiences take from Closer Than Ever?

I hope audiences are willing to go on the extreme roller coaster of emotions with the cast. We are up there portraying happiness, sadness, anger, joy, humor, resentment, obsession, ecstasy, hope … the list goes on, and while it’s therapeutic for us, it’s also for the audience. It’s easy to sit back and listen to the gorgeous melodies of the composer, David Shire, but that’s only half of the experience. I feel like the people that get the most out of this production are the ones that are really listening to Richard Maltby, Jr.’s lyrics and connecting with us. It’s my hope every night that the audiences will find a couple songs that really relate to their personal being, whether it be from a past or current experience, and can reflect upon it critically or fondly, and have fun of course! Like I said, it’s a roller coaster!

3. Which song is your favorite to perform and why?

It’s funny, because my favorite song to perform changes every night. Some nights I’m feeling a little more crazy and obsessive than others so the song “What Am I Doin” is always a blast to sing. But the song “One of the Good Guys” is definitely a favorite every night, mainly because I really connect to the lyrics and of the solos I sing, it gets one of the biggest connections from the audience. Not gonna lie though — I love just sitting out there snapping while Penny sing’s “Back on Base” to perfection! Does that count?

4. Because Closer Than Ever is comprised of many individual stories told thru separate songs, what have you enjoyed about this style of musical theatre in comparison to a typical musical that has a linear narrative?

Closer Than Ever can take you to many emotional places at a lightning pace. A more linear musical with a story needs to take time to introduce the characters, situations, time periods, significant events, but Closer Than Ever just jumps right in. I keep mentioning it, but it really is a roller coaster because each song has its own emotional arc, allowing the audience to go on many personal journeys.  An exposition, rising action, a climax, and sometimes a resolution are in each song, but then it’s on to the next. Also, many musicals are about flashiness and making sure the audience is entertained, which I totally want as an audience member sometimes, but Closer Than Ever is a nice reprieve from the big spectacles. This type of musical is for the people that want to reflect on REAL human experience and not just pretend. I am listed in the script as Man 1 because every man/ woman is supposed to be able to put themselves in my shoes. It’s daunting, yet so therapeutic!

5. If your life was a musical, what would it be called?

Game of Thrones – The musical

For more information or to purchase tickets to Closer Than Ever: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

Why Beverly O’Neill Means so Much to ICT

February 3rd, 2016

Beverly O'Neill

International City Theatre (ICT) has a lot to celebrate these days. Not only are they kicking off their 31st Anniversary season with the award-winning musical Closer Than Ever, but they are also celebrating the renaming of their home. ICT is hosting a gala to honor former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill, paying tribute to her dedicated service to the City and her support of ICT and the arts in Long Beach with the newly named Beverly O’Neill Theater.

If anyone deserves this kind of tribute, it is certainly Beverly O’Neill. She is Long Beach’s only three-term, citywide elected Mayor. Initially elected in 1994, she was re-elected in 1998 with almost 80% of the vote, and was re-elected to a third term as a write-in candidate, the nation’s only large city Mayor to accomplish such an historic feat. A product of the Long Beach public school system, starting with the Long Beach Day Nursery up to her graduation from California State University, Long Beach, Dr. O’Neill pursued her post-graduate studies at the University of Vienna, and received her doctorate from the University of Southern California.

Prior to becoming mayor, Dr. O’Neill spent a 31-year career at Long Beach City College beginning as a music instructor and women’s advisor. In the succeeding years she advanced to Campus Dean, Dean of Student Affairs, Vice President of Student Services and spent her last five years as Superintendent-President. It was during this time that she worked with and supported Founding ICT Artistic Director Shashin Desai to open International City Theatre on the college campus, the first time there was a professional theatre on a community college campus in the nation. After a string of successful seasons at the college, she supported ICT’s move to the underutilized Center Theater in downtown Long Beach at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. ICT has called this home ever since, celebrating its 20th year downtown in 2016.

If you would like to attend the Gala and celebrate Mayor O’Neill and her achievements, ICT invites you to attend. Guests will enjoy complimentary wine, a delicious dinner and attend the opening night of Closer Than Ever. There will also be a post-show reception with O’Neill, the director, and cast. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 562-436-4610 or visit

Gerald Sternbach: Nothing Comes From a Vacuum

November 5th, 2015

Musical Director Gerald SternbachSondheim on Sondheim, now in its final week of a four-week run, has been dazzling audiences nightly. Much of that is due to wonderful musical numbers performed by our amazing cast, who have been under the guidance of the endlessly talented Musical Director Gerald Sternbach. We asked him some questions about his work on this show, and he was kind enough to respond. Enjoy!

1. As Musical Director for Sondheim on Sondheim, what has your experience been with this show?

I have had a wonderful experience doing this show. There are some of us that have been loyal Sondheim enthusiasts. I remember the excitement I personally had—since I did not live in New York (I grew up in the San Fernando Valley)—of hearing original cast albums of shows. I have been listening to his musicals since I was in high school, and there was always that element of discovery.  Something new from a master, and to my sensibility, in the 70s and 80s, there were still “masters” on Broadway. This has been a great cast, and it has been a joy to approach familiar material with fresh eyes … and the added years of “gravitas’’ certainly help.

The cast of Sondheim on Sondheim

(L to R) Josh Wise, Stephanie Fredricks, Shaina Knox and Jake Novak in SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM

2. Since you have been in the business a long time, what other Sondheim shows have you worked on and which was your favorite?

As musical director of Reprise from 2002 through 2007…I started with FOLLIES (with Patty Duke, Vicki Carr and Harry Groener in the cast) … that was my debut as musical director for the organization. And it continued with COMPANY (Christopher Sieber, Judith Light, Josh Radner) and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (Kelli O’Hara).  It was a thrill to conduct Broadway-size orchestras for those shows. Two of those shows were directed by the redoubtable David Lee, who just happened to direct the very first Sondheim show I ever did—SIDE BY SIDE by SONDHEIM (at the Studio One Backlot in West Hollywood. I am not going to date myself by telling you which year. Needless to say i was still in my 20s … and it was before I moved to New York. I also want to share that I saw the the original cast of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE perform the final preview … when the show was “frozen,” so to speak. It will always remain one of the top five theatrical experiences of my life—and it was my thrill to conduct it at Reprise.

3. Why do you think Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics are held in such high esteem? What makes him different from other musical theatre composers?

His craft, his sensibility and the sense of rightness of it all. People need to realize that a lot of his shows were “fashioned”… they were “created”… nothing came out of a vacuum fully formed. These works took time. Even the works that are flawed have a fascination about them.

4. On the other side of the spectrum, which musical theatre composer do you think deserves more attention or acclaim?

I’m just going to say it … me. I have several projects that I have worked on … and am working on … that hopefully will be taking further steps within the next year.

5. What do you hope audiences take from seeing Sondheim on Sondheim?

Audiences—all audiences—that doesn’t ONLY mean new audiences—need to learn that nothing comes from a vacuum … that intelligence needs to be savored and in these times when mediocrity is the “coin of the realm” there is always something you can learn from the work of Stephen Joshua Sondheim.

For more information or to purchase tickets to Sondheim on Sondheim: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

5 Reasons Why You Should See Sondheim On Sondheim

October 7th, 2015

sondheim cartoonAs we prepare for our last production of the season, Sondheim On Sondheim (we open in one week), our excitement to be presenting a Sondheim musical is overflowing and it is becoming difficult to control it any longer. Some of that enthusiasm has created this list of five reasons why you should see this show. This production is a marriage of Stephen Sondheim’s greatest works and newest brilliance. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list we have compiled for your viewing pleasure.

1. You saw it first

hipICT’s production of Sondheim on Sondheim is the Los Angeles premiere of the musical. Be the first, be the coolest, see Sondheim before everyone else in the county of Angels. L.A. culture thrives on trend-setting uniqueness, and we just want to help keep you hip.

2. It’s a Sondheim buffet

The very nature of Sondheim on Sondheim is equivocal to that of a sampler platter.  The songs (or should we say SOND-track? Wink.) of this production are packed with some of his best compositions and original works. Maybe you only know Sondheim for his recent stage-to-film adaptations Sweeney Todd or Into the Woods. That’s ok, whatever gets you to the theatre. For fear not, newcomer. After seeing Sondheim on Sondheim, your musical senses will be enticed and titillated, asking for more Sondheim.

3. Setting standards

The music of Sondheim on Sondheim includes “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music, which argues as Stephen’s number one composition of all time. After its stage debut in 1973, both Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins picked this standard up and landed on the pop charts multiple times. Even The Simpson’s Krusty the Clown performed this little number. Sondheim on Sondheim incorporates the best of the best.

4. Oh, my Sondheim!

The original production of Sondheim on Sondheim also marks his most recent song to hit Broadway to date. The song, titled “God,” modestly parallels Sondheim with an omnipotent haughtiness that few can pull off as successfully as God—we mean Sondheim. Calling on all devout musical enthusiasts, listen to the good word of “God” below.

5. More powerful than the Wizard of Oz

Wizard of OzThis musical is special. And we’re not just saying that like a proud mama cooing over their child’s participatory ribbon. Sondheim on Sondheim is not your average self-composed biographic musical on America’s greatest modern playwright, ladies and gents. There’s even more to it. The musical uses multimedia to project the composer himself onto a giant screen, giving him a Wizard of Oz authority. As if being God wasn’t enough.

Sondheim on Sondheim runs Thursdays through Sundays from October 16 to November 8, with low-priced previews October 14-15. For tickets or more information go to or call (562) 436 – 4610.

Celebrating Sondheim

September 24th, 2015

It says quite a bit about one’s prestige when an award-winning stage director wants to create and produce a biographical musical about someone’s life while said person is still living.

International City Theatre’s next and final production of the season, James Lapine’s Sondheim on Sondheim, highlights Stephen Sondheim’s personal life and professional success and struggles through a blend of interview footage and Sondheim’s original music.

sondheim1“If people have split views about your work, I think it’s flattering. I’d rather have them feel something about it than dismiss it,” Sondheim once said.

Though Sondheim’s career has had its ups and downs in acceptance and public interest over the course of its 43 years, denying his genius would be a difficult argument to make. If someone’s getting a biographical musical in their lifetime, it’s going to be Stephen.

Sans subjectivity, no one can deny the sheer quantifiable wins in Sondheim’s corner. Starting with his first award, a Tony for Best Musical with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1963, he has since received one Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize in drama for Sunday in the Park with George, a Laurence Olivier Award and seven more Tony’s (which is more than any other composers, by the way).

Starting your professional career as a composer with Oscar Hammerstein as your mentor and the lyrics  of West Side Story in your portfolio is not a bad foot to start off on either.  Since then, Sondheim has written the music and lyrics for 25 different musicals, with 16 of them appearing on Broadway.

Even flops (yes, he shockingly had those) have been revived and revered. For example, 1990 Off-Broadway’s Assassins closed after 73 performances of the original production, never making it to Broadway as anticipated.

Assassins will have to fire with sharper aim and fewer blanks if it is to shoot to kill,” stated a Time review of the original production. Cocked and loaded, the 2004 revival brought it there though, earning the play the Tony Award for best revival.

sondheim2The Kennedy Center, which gives annual awards to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture, named the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards after him and sent out the award on March 22, Stephen’s birthday. The Kennedy Center did so to honor Sondheim’s 80th birthday and the impact mentorships have had on his success as well as what he has taught others.  After all, Sondheim once said, “teaching is a sacred profession. And art is a form of teaching.”

If art is a way to teach, Sondheim is theatre’s sensei. His lesson plan? Life. In a New York Times review of Sondheim on Sondheim in 2010, Ben Brantley wrote that it is more than Stephen’s cleverness in lyrics that make him a great composer.

“It’s because he senses and conveys the darker currents of pain and loneliness that swirl beneath even the shiniest surfaces,” Brantley wrote. “He sees inside us. And there is something kind of Godlike about that.”

Described as omnipotent, it is no wonder Sondheim would have a musical created about his life and career, and who better to compose the music than himself? The Los Angeles premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim at International City Theatre runs October 14 through November 8. For more information, call (562) 436-4610 or go to

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Sash Lewis.