Batavia Players get ‘Back on the Boards’ with Sondheim tribute

Written by corres2

BATAVIA — Kathy White, who is directing Batavia Players’ next production, was preparing for the show he was originally planning when word came last November that Stephen Sondheim had died.

Sondheim, an American composer, had revolutionized the way musicals were done in such shows as “West Side Story,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and “Into the Woods.”

White decided it would be fitting to put together a program featuring just his music.

“He was a different style of writer and did shows that were not the traditional type of musical at the time,” said White, who is directing next weekend’s production of “Back on the Boards Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim.”

Sondheim wrote his first musical – which was never performed until 50 years later – called “Saturday Night” in 1954. Then Leonard Bernstein asked him to write the lyrics for “West Side Story” in 1957. Afterwards Jule Styne asked him to write the lyrics for “Gypsy” in 1959. After that he wrote all his own lyrics and music for his shows with the exception of “Do I Hear a Waltz?” in 1964.

Shows Sondheim wrote during his career were: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” in 1962, “Anyone Can Whistle” in 1964, “Evening Primrose” in 1966, “Company” in 1970, “Follies” in 1971, “A Little Night Music” in 1973, “The Frogs” in 1974, “Pacific Overtures” in 1976, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in 1979, “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981, “Sunday in the Park with George” in 1984, “Into the Woods” in 1987, “Assassins” in 1990, “Passion” in 1994 and “Road Show” in 2008. He won seven Tony Awards.

He also wrote other things along the way, winning the 1990 Academy Award for best original song for “Sooner or Later” from Dick Tracy.

“Back on the Boards Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim” will featuring more than 20 songs sung by 18 people.

Beth Ann Hooker sings the solo “The Ladies who Lunch” from “Company” and “I’m Still Here“ from “Follies” with Lucine Kauffman and Jane Burk.

Hooker said she decided to get back on stage after not doing anything with The Batavia Players for years. She’s been doing shows with the theater since 1973. Hooker said she enjoys being with all the people she gets to work with on stage.

Jocelyn Colburn, who is featured in “Putting it Together,” has been with Batavia Players for the past 13 years.

“Revues like this are super fun just because its so ensemble and everyone gets their little moment to shine,” she said.

Kristin Gelia sings “Could I Leave You?” and is part of the trio in “Old Friends.” She was invited by White to be part of the ensemble.

“I really think Kathy did a wonderful job of really thinking about the pieces she selected for everybody,” she said. “She also collaborated with us about what we would want to do as well.”

Gelia has been with The Batavia Players since 2016 and comes all the way from Buffalo to take part. She said she enjoys the people in the Batavia Players, saying they are kind and really care.

“Back on the Boards Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Batavia City Center, 102 Main St., Batavia. The entrance is the purple door by Family Dental , 6 Batavia City Centre.

Tickets, which cost $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. are available online at showtix4u.com.

Batavia Players season at a glance

BATAVIA — This year’s Batavia Players season opened with its annual Shakespeare in Springtime production. This year it was “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” A total of seven shows are scheduled, with a Stephen Sondheim tribute up next. A look at the schedule:

n MAY 6-8: “Back on the Boards Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim.”

n MAY 13-15: “The Importance Of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personas to escape burdensome social obligations.

n JULY 22-23: “Peter Pan Jr.” is a Summer Theater Camp production that follows the classic tale of the boy who did not want to grow up.

n Aug 12-14: “Godspell,” a Summer Youth Program production is a musical about the Gospel according to Matthew. Pat Burk, president of Batavia Players, said this is the musical they’ve done the most, but don’t expect a repeat production. “I’m designing the production to be very unique and very different from what people have seen in the past,” Burk said.

n OCT. 14-16: Uncle Vanya is Anton Chekhov’s foray into the life of an elderly professor and his glamorous, much-younger second wife, Yelena. The play commences when a sudden change of heart becomes apparent and the characters must live with its outcome.

n DEC. 1, 3-4, and 9-11: Meredith Wilson’s “Miracle on 34th Street The Musical” finds the holiday fast approaching and residents of New York City looking towards the wonders, awe and magic of the season. One small girl is touched by the Santa Claus that she met at her mother’s store and sets off to prove that the true meaning of Christmas is in the hearts and minds of Christmas believers.

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