Dan Fishbach (last season's award-winning Jacques Brel Is Alive and Living in Paris) returns to the Odyssey Theatre to direct a revival of Side by Side by Sondheim, set to run July 21 through Sept. 16 at the Odyssey's venue in West L.A.

The sophistication, wit, insight, heart and genius of Broadway's most innovative and influential artist is at the center of this tribute to composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim. A musical treat,Side by Side features a dazzling array of songs from landmark shows that revolutionized the art of musical theater with their masterful craft and astounding creativity, including Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle and Pacific Overtures - as well as songs from the classics Sondheim wrote with musical theater giants Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne, such as West Side Story, Gypsy and Do I Hear a Waltz?

Side by Side by Sondheim was born when David Kernan, performing at the time in the original London production of A Little Night Music, was approached and agreed to put together a performance of some kind for a benefit. He wrote to Sondheim for permission to use his music in a revue, and received a telegram back saying, "By all means try, but I can't think of anything more boring except possibly the Book of Kells."

As it turns out, the benefit went over very well. Cameron Mackintosh, just starting out as a producer, saw the show and agreed to move it to London's Mermaid Theatre. Sondheim agreed to come over and work with the cast, and ended up essentially directing. The show ran there for eight weeks and then moved to the larger Wyndham Theatre, where it ran for three years. Hal Prince produced the Broadway version, which received Tony nominations for the show and all four actors.

The Odyssey production will star Sarah Busic, Mark D. Kaufmann, Chris Kerrigan, Rachel McLaughlan and understudy Mark J. Freeman. The creative team includes musical directorRichard Berent, choreographer Imani G. Alexander, set designer Alex Kolmanovsky, lighting designer William Adashek, costume designer Kim DeShazo and prop master Sofia Cassidy. The assistant director is Brooke Lewis, and the stage manager is Beth Mack.

Dan Fishbach has been a theater director, producer and teacher for 20 years. Recent directing credits include last season's critically acclaimed production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Living in Paris at the Odyssey; Noises Off at Oklahoma City University; Sondheim and Weidman'sAssassins at the Pico Playhouse (Broadway World, StageRaw and Robby award nominations); the workshop production of We're Here For You (Las Vegas, NV); the international tour of One Night Stand: An Improvised Musical for producer Marc Platt (Wicked); Steven Dietz's Private Eyes (Raven Playhouse); Nicky Silver's The Maiden's Prayer (Actors Workout Studio); the world premiere of Anthony Mora's play Silencing Silas; HAIR, in a collaboration with co-author James Rado; and The 25th Annual Putnam Co. Spelling Bee, Chicago, Company and Spring Awakening for USC's School of Dramatic Arts, where he is on the musical theater and directing faculties. Dan has taught acting, musical theater and directing at Cal Poly Pomona, Kenyon College, Santa Monica College, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where he developed and taught courses in the history of musical theater, and Harvard-Westlake School, where he was head of performing arts for six years. Prior to coming to USC, Fishbach served as the director of The Groundlings theater and school. He is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Musical Theater Studio, a training ground for professional musical theater actors.

The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble was founded in 1969 when Ron Sossi decided to demonstrate that experiment-oriented theater could have populist appeal and be fiscally solvent while maintaining the highest artistic standards. Wildly successful and innovative productions such as The Serpent and Brecht's The Threepenny Operaimmediately gained the Odyssey its reputation for producing dangerous, magical and experimental work. More recent successes include Conor McPherson's relentlessly dark and funny new version of The Dance of Death by August Strindberg; Beckett5, a quintet of darkly humorous, seldom-seen short plays by Samuel Beckett; Sliding into Hades, created by the Odyssey's KOAN unit and recipient of multiple LA Weekly awards including "Production of the Year," "Best New Play" and Best Director (Sossi); and Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga's Way To Heaven. Now celebrating its 49th season, OTE continues to explore, produce and present works on the forefront of contemporary theater art in its three-theater complex in West Los Angeles.

Performances of Side by Side by Sondheim take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from July 21 through Sept. 16. On Sunday, July 22 only, the performance will be at 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, Aug. 8; Thursday, Aug. 23,Thursday, Sept. 6; and Wednesday, Sept. 12; and all at 8 p.m. Talkbacks with the cast follow the performances on Friday, Aug. 3; Thursday, Aug. 23; andWednesday, Sept. 12. Tickets range from $32 to $37; there will be three "Tix for $10" performances on Friday, July 27; Wednesday, Aug. 8; and Friday, Sept. 6. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.

The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

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