Broadway stars will pay a 90th birthday tribute to legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim on the free virtual concert “Take Me To The World,” set to air live on April 26.
“Take Me To The World” will take place on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Sondheim’s Broadway hit “Company.” Raul Esparza, who starred in the Tony-winning revival of the show in 2006, will host the event with Mary-Mitchell Campbell serving as the musical director.
Stars including Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Kristin Chenoweth and Aaron Tveit will perform Sondheim classics for an online broadcast to air via Broadway.com’s YouTube channel. The tunesmith is known for such Main Stem hits as “Sunday in the Park With George,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “A Little Night Music.” He also worked alongside Leonard Bernstein as a lyricist for “West Side Story.” Sondheim turned 90 on March 22.
“The world is in a hard place, and we are all searching for something great. Well, Stephen Sondheim is greatness personified. So, we’ve assembled a group of people who love Steve and have worked with Steve and have been inspired by Steve to sing his music and share some joy and some heartache together,” said Esparza in a statement. “We may be far from Broadway right now, but Broadway is never far from us. Besides, Stephen Sondheim turned 90. How many times do you get to be 90? 11? So come on, say it, get it over with, come on, quick…happy birthday.”
The event serves as a fundraiser for Campbell’s organization ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), which helps connect performing and visual artists with underprivileged youth.
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“Sondheim shows us the depth of our hearts, the complexity of our minds, and all that it is possible to accomplish through his brilliant marriage of music and storytelling,” said Campbell. “Artists Striving to End Poverty aims to make sure that all children living in challenging situations have the opportunity to be transformed by the making of art. In my personal experience, encountering Stephen Sondheim’s music has helped these children imagine an entirely different life and future for themselves. Linking Sondheim and ASTEP together during this very difficult time made perfect sense to us. Children and art.”
Other actors set to perform for “Take Me To The World” include Donna Murphy, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Iain Armitage, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephen Schwartz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani, Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma.
(Pictured: Patti LuPone)