Side by Side by Sondheim
Side by Side by Sondheim recaptured the wit and songwriting talent of Stephen Sondheim with old-fashioned flair and style but also included a modern-day narration of the context of the songs, courtesy of master of ceremonies and narrator Jessica Rowe. Rowe's own elegance and beautiful speaking voice contributed hugely to the audience's relaxation throughout. Rachel Beck and Geraldine Turner nicely played off the straight-man persona that Michael Falzon mostly projected, all three singing with ease a range of duets, trios, and occasional solos about such perennials as love, desire, wooing, commitment, and marriage.
The trio was accompanied nearly faultlessly by pianists Craig Renshaw and Paul Geddys. The show was very lively throughout, enhanced by the at times stellar lighting, and only the fussiest ear could take exception to beats held for not quite long enough to keep in time for those of us who were dancing—in spirit, of course.
The jokes, once daring, even risqué, were rendered still surprisingly funny in the hands of these performers, with appropriate help from their accompanying gestures and facial expressions. Sondheim's very clever rhymes, enriched by alliteration, a kind wit, and sometimes tongue-twisting speed, are one of his trademarks. Such deft creativity, rarely matched, makes his words as fresh today as when he first penned them.
John P. Harvey
Image: (L–R) Geraldine Turner, Jessica Rowe, Rachel Beck, and Michael Falzon.