Stephen Sondheim celebrated by Dench, Peters at London gala

May 3, 2022, 6:29 AM | Updated: 9:08 pm
FILE - Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim poses for a picture after being awarded the Freedom o...

FILE - Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim poses for a picture after being awarded the Freedom of the City of London at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London, Sept. 27, 2018. Dozens of stars of musical theater gathered at a London theatre, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, for a celebration titled “Old Friends” to raise money for the Stephen Sondheim Foundation, which will benefit young composers. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

LONDON (AP) — Judi Dench was given a standing ovation for “Send in The Clowns.” Bernadette Peters bent over with her back to the audience and with her head between her legs blasted her trumpet to “You Gotta Get A Gimmick.”

Petula Clark, 89, belted out “I’m Still Here.” And Imelda Staunton set off a huge ovation with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”

What the four had in common was devotion to Stephen Sondheim, the groundbreaking Broadway composer/lyricist who died in November at age 91. Dozens of stars of musical theater gathered Tuesday night for a celebration titled “Old Friends” to raise money for the Stephen Sondheim Foundation, which will benefit young composers.

“He always considered London his second home,” producer Cameron Mackintosh, who organized the event, told the sellout crowd of about 1,100 at a theater renamed the Sondheim from the Queen’s in 2019. “He brilliantly has left his incredible legacy of work to the support of future generations of artists through his foundation.”

Lending drama to the evening, only the scheduled songs were included in the program, with the identities of the attached singers provided to the audience only as people filed out. There was a minimal set and some cast members were costumed during a flowing program that showcased Sondheim’s Tony, Olivier and Pulitzer Prize-winning work.

Peters, 74, who created the roles of Dot in “Sunday in the Park with George” and the Witch in “Into the Woods,” made a dramatic entrance cloaked in a cape as Little Red Riding Hood to Damian Lewis’ Wolf. Marshalling her voice for drama and impact, Peters was included in eight of the 40 selections sung over 2 hours, 45 minutes, most notably a “Losing My Mind” rendition that left some of the audience in tears.

Michael Ball was given a central role in selections from “Sweeney Todd” that included a witty “A Little Priest” with Maria Friedman, an actress who has become a heralded director of Sondheim. He also sang a gender-switched version of “Could I Leave You?”

Dench, reprising what many consider the definitive version of Sondheim’s most-well known song, stumbled over some of the words but still created an indelible performance. The 87-year-old, who has limited vision, was helped to her chair for her performance.

Julia McKenzie, whom Mackintosh said had not appeared on stage in 24 years, returned at age 81 to join ensembles for “Side by Side” and “Not A Day Goes By” and a 10-woman rendition of “Broadway Baby” that included Helena Bonham Carter, Rosalie Craig and Jenna Russell plus Gary Wilmot.

Sondheim’s humorous side was on display when Lewis, Rob Brydon and Julian Overdon put domestic uniforms over their tuxedos to join 88-year-old Siân Phillips in “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid.” Janie Dee hammed up “The Boy From …” a parody of “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Members of the Royal Academy Musical Theatre Company and the Mountview theater academy lent youth with the “Tonight Quintet.”

Conductor Alfonso Casado Trigo led a 26-piece orchestra that was on stage, photos of Sondheim from youth until old age were displayed during an ensemble of “Not A Day Goes By” and a video was shown of Sondheim and fellow composer Andrew Lloyd Webber at a piano parodying their own work.

Tickets were priced at 75 to 1,250 pounds ($94-$1,563) and the program was simulcast to the Prince Edward Theatre a few blocks away, leaving a recording that could be released if permissions are secured.

As young singers joined the full company for the concluding “Our Time,” Peters crossed the stage exchanging hugs as confetti fell and Dench appeared to be holding back tears. The performance seemed as memorable for the cast as for the audience.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

High court rejects Russian company’s dispute with Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is siding with a Russian oil company in a dispute with Ukraine worth millions, a win for the company as Russia continues to wage war in Ukraine. The justices said Monday they would not intervene in a dispute between PAO Tatneft, one of Russia’s largest oil companies, and Ukraine. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Marcos trip to watch Singapore F1 races sparks criticism

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A trip by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Singapore over the weekend to watch Formula One races has come under attack from critics who described it as “utterly callous” while thousands of Filipinos remain displaced due to a recent typhoon. Marcos Jr. confirmed his trip to Singapore for the Grand […]
1 day ago
Denis Becirovic of Social Democratic Party (SDP) speaks at a news conference where he declared hims...
Associated Press

Bosnia’s sectarian parties poised to retain power after vote

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnia’s long-entrenched sectarian parties were poised Monday to be the overall winners of the country’s general election despite symbolic successes by some opposition candidates who ran on a corruption-fighting agenda in the Balkan country that is divided along ethnic lines. Preliminary results released Monday by Bosnia’s central election commission showed the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Don Blankenship listens to arguments in the West Virginia Supreme Court n Charleston, W.Va.,...
Associated Press

Supreme Court leaves Don Blankenship conviction in place

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says it won’t review the conviction of former coal CEO Don Blankenship, who was found guilty of conspiring to violate safety standards at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine before the 2010 explosion that killed 29 men. The justices said Monday they would not take the case of the […]
1 day ago
FILE - MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, speaks to reporters outside federal court in Washingt...
Associated Press

Supreme Court won’t take up MyPillow head’s defamation case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says it won’t intervene in a lawsuit in which Dominion Voting Systems accused MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell of defamation for falsely accusing the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election against former President Donald Trump. As is typical, the high court did not say anything Monday about the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on a screen in the background, questions witnesses about Zel...
Associated Press

Fraud, scam cases increasing on Zelle, Senate report finds

NEW YORK (AP) — Incidents of fraud and scams are occurring more often on the popular peer-to-peer payment service Zelle, according to a report coming out Monday from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, giving the public its first glimpse into the growing problems at Zelle. The report obtained by The Associated Press also found […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Stephen Sondheim celebrated by Dench, Peters at London gala