BWW Exclusive: Jason Robert Brown, Stephen Sondheim, and Why Georgia Stitt is One Lucky Lady
If anyone ever throws me a surprise party, it better be Jason Robert Brown. When you're at a concert expecting the legendary Stephen Sondheim to appear, Brown considers it a perfect time to toss in a jaw-dropping shock in the form of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Needless to say he knows how to kickoff a benefit concert that just got better and better.
Starting with a throwback to his early acting days and joined by the aforementioned composer of note, Brown explained his early connection to Sondheim's work in Merrily We Roll Along. This was followed by a rousing 'Melinda', a track from Brown's most recent album How We React and How We Recover.
The concert was interspersed with guests and Brown's himself, a lovely showcase of the various works involved.
Featured guest Katrina Lenk, electric as ever, began with 'Another Life' from The Bridges of Madison County at which point Brown had his way and dreamcast her as the Witch from Into the Woods and treated the audience to The Last Midnight. She later joined Joshua Henry for 'Move On'. It's hard to choose her best song, but a highlight was a rendition of 'Not While I'm Around' sung between the pianos of Brown and Sondheim.
Rob McClure lit up the stage with what Brown introduced as a favorite of Sondheim's, 'I Love Betsy' from Honeymoon in Vegas, and Shoshana Bean used her stage magic joining Brown in 'The Next Ten Minutes'.
The honored guest of the evening was welcomed with a standing ovation. Stephen Sondheim is a legend, but he was there to play music and enjoy the artistry of his fellow creatives. He and Brown sat at their pianos playing and singing like two old friends, invoking the intimacy of SubCulture in a room ten times the size filled to the brim.
The best seat in the house, hands down, belonged to Georgia Stitt. Expertly conducting the evening, Stitt got to occasionally surrender the stage to Brown and guests and watch the evening unfold from the center of the action. A well-earned honor to say the least as everyone knows her creative genius is equal to that of her surrounding colleagues (still jealous though).
The general theme of the concert was to feature the works of both Brown and Sondheim, but at the end of the evening, it proved to be as much about the art of making theatre as any one person's efforts. Theatre is collaboration, which can take many forms. It can take place in the same room or it can take place across decades. Sondheim's artistic guidance has helped shape so many artists, and Brown's has too. Town Hall was alive with artists celebrating each other and the fleeting magic of the stage. To be in the theatre is to be part of a community and the community was thriving that night.
While fun was had and SubCulture is owed a massive thank you for allowing the evening to happen, it must also be noted that one of the primary goals was to support Brady and their mission to end the gun violence epidemic sweeping the country. Be sure to visit www.bradyunited.org to donate and learn more about their efforts to make this country a safer place.
Photo Credit: Erika Kapin Photography