San Jose Playhouse Presents SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM In Honor of the Late, Great Musical Theatre Icon

A celebration of the extraordinary work of the late composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim features career-spanning classics from Sondheim's unequaled canon. 

By: Dec. 01, 2023
San Jose Playhouse Presents SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM In Honor of the Late, Great Musical Theatre Icon

San Jose Playhouse presents SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM in honor of the late, great musical theatre icon.

Sondheim on Sondheim: A celebration of the extraordinary work of the late composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim features career-spanning classics from Sondheim's unequaled canon. 

His story. His inspiration. His genius. Take a stroll into the mind of the legendary master, Stephen Sondheim, the Father of the Modern Musical. Millions of fans know his songs by heart, but few know much about Stephen Sondheim himself. Sondheim on Sondheim is an intimate portrait of the beloved composer through his own words and music. 

Stephen Sondheim has been dubbed the titan of musical theatre and helped re-shape and re-imagine what could be done within the art form. From his work as a lyricist for West Side Story and Gypsy to the incredible music and lyricist he wrote for Follies, Company, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods this is a revelatory revue full of wonderful moments featuring familiar favorites as well as many hidden gems. 

Audiences will immerse themselves in Sondheim's unparalleled work in this funny, affectionate and revealing tribute to musical theater's greatest composer and lyricist that includes filmed commentary from the man himself. This production continues 3Below Theaters' Playhouse celebration of the maestro bringing to life some of his most monumental musical moments for a new generation. 

The tapestry of creativity that characterizes Stephen Sondheim remained largely undiscussed, especially by the man himself, until the creation of Sondheim on Sondheim. Through the use of exclusive interview footage, audiences get an inside look at the personal life and artistic process of the famed composer. The show includes new arrangements of more than two dozen Sondheim tunes, ranging from the beloved to the obscure. 

The Guggenheims say, “It is the greatest honor and privilege to produce a play celebrating Stephen Sondheim for 3Below with an incredible group of singing actors who inhabit this material and deliver performances for the audience that will move, transport, and inspire. The task is humbling, but as George would say: ‘White. A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities.'” 

"When we first watched the video content that accompanies the actors in this production, Shannon and I both watched together and instantly felt like teenagers at the stage door waiting for an autograph from one's idol," said Scott Guggenheim who is co-directing and producing Sondheim on Sondheim with his wife and creative partner, Shannon Guggenheim.

"Watching Mr. Sondheim in his living room, seeing his couch, what's on his walls, his mantle - it really made the 'theater geek' inside us rather giddy. We can't wait to share that kid-in-a-Sondheim-filled-candy-store feeling with our audiences." 

Conceived and originally directed by Sondheim's frequent collaborator James Lapine, 3Below's production is produced, directed and choreographed by Scott and Shannon Guggenheim with musical direction by Stephen Guggenheim. The production design is by Guggenheim Entertainment with lighting by Jon Gourdine. 

"I originally wanted this show to be titled: An Evening with Stephen Sondheim, but there was a concern that our New York audience would actually think that Sondheim himself would be on stage every night," said Lapine in his production notes. "Of course, with Sondheim on Sondheim, Steve is there, and I know that when you get to the end of the show and your cast sings 'Anyone Can Whistle' accompanied by the master himself, you and your audiences will feel as if you have indeed spent an evening with Stephen Sondheim." 

Both beloved and obscure numbers taken directly from the Sondheim songbook supplement the stories told by the stellar cast. Starring Osher Fine, Stephen Guggenheim, Susan Gundunas, Juanita Harris, Ric Iverson, Nick Tobara, James Raasch, and Krista Wigle, Sondheim on Sondheim showcases music from 19 of Sondheim's shows throughout the 100 minute production. 

"At the callbacks for this production, we asked each auditioner to share their favorite Sondheim memory," said Shannon Guggenheim. "Perhaps the request could have been viewed as a device to weed out those actors not familiar enough with the material to be part of such a challenging new work, but we were pretty sure everyone in the room would be able to recount at least one defining moment when they fell in love with Sondheim. Not only did each person have a crystallized memory of the first time they were exposed to 'Sunday In The Park With George,' or when they realized 'Anyone Can Whistle' isn't about whistling at all, but they spoke with great reverence about how this master's compositions and lyrics have changed their lives. They know what a privilege it is to be able to sing Sondheim's work and share the words and music with audiences equally enamored by the content, or even better, to introduce Sondheim to people unfamiliar with the remarkable anthology of songs we will present in this revue." 

Cameron Mackintosh said: It is impossible to overstate the influence and contribution Stephen Sondheim has made to Musical Theatre, both personally and professionally. He was as great a teacher as he was an incomparable writer and the Little Things that he did for so many people forged legions of friendships throughout his long life. I was lucky enough to be Steve's friend and occasional collaborator for over 45 years since I first produced Side By Side By Sondheim at the Wyndham's Theatre in 1976. It was a friendship full of laughter, gossip and glorious insightful camaraderie. Steve was so prolific and profound as a writer that it's impossible to put together a definitive list of his greatest songs, as everyone has their own favorites, so our choice of songs will purely reflect the joy and love I have for one of the greatest Broadway babies of all time. 

Ticket Information 

Tickets are available online, at the 3Below Theater Box Office, or at http://www.sanjoseplayhouse.org or by calling 408-404-7711 

 

Performance dates are November 30 (Opening Night) and runs through December 17, 2023 at the 3Below Theaters, 288 South 2nd Street, San Jose, CA. 95113, 408-404-7711. Performance times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm. 

Learn more about the production, view information, press photos and video clips at www.sanjoseplayhouse.org


The run of SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM is dedicated in memory of Martin Rojas Dietrich (September 9, 1978 - September 19, 2023) and Jenessa Schwartz (June 12, 1982 - November 1, 2023). This year our theatre community lost two incredible artists to whom the producers, cast, and crew would like to delicate this production. 

A remarkably talented artist, Martin touched everyone with his art, his heart, and his laughter. Our 2018 production of SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM was made all the better because of his moving performance doing what he loved: singing Sondheim with a cast of his friends for a mesmerized and appreciative audience. Martin will be forever in our hearts. 

Jenessa made an immeasurable impact on our family and our business in her roles as teacher, performer, colleague, and friend. “Brave” does not even begin to describe her and her tireless fight against cancer. We hope all will strive to live by Nessa's example: “Life is hard, life is short, and a gift. Cultivate a seize-the-day attitude and do not put off joy.” 

In addition to celebrating our dear friends and raising funds for their chosen charities we have invited our performers, designers, and production team to consider a charity for which we will raise funds on their behalf as part of our 2023 Thanks and Giving campaign. 

We will dedicate one performance to each artist and their desired charity. Following the dedicated performance, we will turn the hat and invite our audience to give generously in support of this charity. A post show pitch will be made on behalf of the charity. 

November 30th 7:30: In honor and memory of Jenessa Schwartz - Cancer Research Institute December 1st 7:30: Osher Fine - ASPCA 

December 2nd 2:30: Nick Taborra - Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS December 2nd 7:30: Ric Iverson - Alzheimer's Association 

December 3rd 2:30: Stephen Guggenheim - Hope Services 

December 7th 7:30: Phil Lowery - American Cancer Society 

December 8th 7:30: Krista Wigle - Project Open Hand 

December 9th 2:30: In honor and memory of Martin Rojas Dietrich - Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS 

December 9th 7:30: James Raasche - American Cancer Society 

December 10th 2:30: Susan Gundunas - Alzheimer's Association 

December 14th 7:30: Jon Gourdine - Make A Wish Foundation 

December 15th 7:30: American Cancer Society in honor of our survivors December 16th 2:30: Osher Fine - ASPCA 

December 17th 2:30: In honor and memory of Jenessa Schwartz - Yavneh Day School 




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