International City Theatre Wraps 30th Anniversary Season With “Sondheim on Sondheim”

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International City Theatre winds up its 30th anniversary season with an intimate portrait of musical icon Stephen Sondheim in his own words and music. DJ Gray directs and stages the Los Angeles premiere of James Lapine’s award-winning Broadway hit, Sondheim on Sondheim. Previews are set for October 14 and 15, and opening night is October 16 at ICT’s newly renovated home in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.

Writing songs that reflect the complexity of his characters, Sondheim changed the way we define a great musical. Yet even though millions of fans know his songs by heart, few know much about Sondheim himself. Until now. Originally conceived as a tribute for Sondheim’s 80th birthday party, Sondheim on Sondheim is a love letter from Lapine to his friend and frequent collaborator. Exclusive video footage, in which Sondheim offers an inside look at his personal life and artistic process, is combined with sparkling-new arrangements of over two dozen Sondheim tunes, delivered at ICT by Stephanie Fredricks, Barbara Carlton Heart, Shaina Knox, Kevin McMahon, Jake Novak and Josh Wise under Gerald Sternbach’s musical direction.

“The show lets us in on Stephen’s creative process,” says Gray, who assisted Lapine on the Broadway production. “In addition to the well-known songs, there are some that are more obscure, and some that ended up being cut all together from his musicals. It’s fascinating to hear Stephen speak frankly about why those didn’t work. He’s candid, funny and charming. It’s a unique window into how he works and what shaped him as an artist.”

Stephen Sondheim is widely regarded as the most important composer and lyricist of musical theater in the second half of the 20th century. He is the winner of an Academy Award and eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, as well eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Hs best-known works as a composer and lyricist include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods and Assassins, and he wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy. Sondheim has also written film music, contributing “Goodbye for Now” to Warren Beatty’s 1981 Red and five songs to 1990’s Dick Tracy, including “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” which was performed by Madonna and won the Academy Award for best song. Sondheim was president of the Dramatists Guild from 1973 to 1981. On September 15, 2010, in honor of his 80th birthday, the former Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Conceived and originally directed by Lapine, Roundabout Theatre Company premiered Sondheim on Sondheim at its Studio 54 venue on Broadway in 2010. The production garnered a Drama Desk Award for outstanding musical revue and a Drama League Award for distinguished production of a musical. The show was inspired by a concept by David Kernan. The video was created and designed by Peter Flaherty. Orchestrations are by Michael Starobin, and arrangements are by David Loud. Set design for the ICT production is by Don Llewellyn, with lighting design by Tom Ruzika; costume design by Kim DeShazo, sound design by Dave Mickey, props by Patty and Gordon Briles, wigs by Anthony Gagliardi, and casting by Michael Donovan Casting. The production stage manager is Pat Loeb.

Sondheim on Sondheim runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Oct. 16 through Nov. 8. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, Oct. 14 and Thursday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $46 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $48 on Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (Oct. 16), for which tickets are $54 and include a post-performance reception, and previews which are $34. International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or

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