Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 24, 2022

REVIEW: Boston Pops Orchestra, "Remembering Stephen Sondheim"

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA 
August 19, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

BSO Cast
As Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart notes in a touching written tribute to Sondheim, the Broadway composer/lyricist had a long relationship with the Pops, including frequent excerpts from his shows on their programs, a semi-staged production of “A Little Night Music,” and a premiere orchestral version of the autobiographical “Sondheim on Sondheim,” which Lockhart ranks among “my favorite musical memories.” In opening comments, he explained that tonight’s concert would focus on Sondheim’s “most productive years,” 1970-1987.

He co-created the program with “stage director and special guest” Jason Danieley, starring in nearby Barrington Stage’s production of “A Little Night Music.” Danieley was joined by “Night Music” castmates in two songs from that show – a charming “You Must Meet My Wife,” with Emily Skinner, and an exuberant “A Weekend in the Country,” with Skinner, Sophie Mings, and Noah Wolfe, along with Broadway stars Nikki Renee Daniels (“Hamilton”) and Conrad Ricamora (“Here Lies Love”). Skinner also offered a devastating solo “Send in the Clowns.” 
These were preceded by selections from “Company,” notably, a vibrant “Another Hundred People” from Daniels, and a climactic “Being Alive” from Ricamora, and “Follies,” especially a rueful but clear-eyed “The Road You Didn’t Take” from “The Lion King” icon Alton Fitzgerald White, a shimmering “In Buddy’s Eyes” from Daniels, and a moving “Too Many Mornings,” beautifully acted by both of them.   

In excerpts from “Sweeney Todd,” Skinner was a hoot as Mrs. Lovett (whom Lockhart had called “a pie shop owner with a supply chain problem”), bringing bravura comic flair and a spot-on Cockney accent to “The Worst Pies in London” and (with a conniving White) “A Little Priest.” Next came “Sunday in the Park with George,” where Daniels was an animated Dot in the title song, Ricamora a dynamic George in “Finishing the Hat,” and both cogent partners in “Move On.” Selections from “Into the Woods” included: “Giants in the Sky,” with Ricamora as a memorably boyish Jack; “Agony,” with Ricamora and White hilarious as Rapunzel’s and Cinderella’s princes; and a poignant “Children Will Listen” from the entire company. 

While “Pacific Overtures” was sadly unrepresented, the company’s “Old Friends” from “Merrily We Roll Along” was a fittingly upbeat finale for this heartwarming celebration of Broadway’s greatest master.