Sondheim gala is just for fun


NEW YORK -- Stephen Sondheim isn't known primarily as a purveyor of Broadway froth and fun. But a giddy playfulness was the dominant mood of the gala benefit, "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall," a fund-raiser for the hall.

The event Wednesday night was taped for the PBS series "Great Performances" and recorded by RCA.

The show featured more than three dozen performers of varying luminosity, including Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Glenn Close and Madeline Kahn. Paul Gemignani, a longtime associate of Mr. Sondheim, conducted the American Theater Orchestra. It was directed and choreographed by Scott Ellis and Susan Stroman, the team that put together the hit off-Broadway revue of songs by John Kander and Fred Ebb, "And the World Goes 'Round," and worked together on "A Little Night Music."

The fast-paced show often blended together two or more Sondheim songs into seriocomic medleys with dancers. "Loveland" from "Follies" was folded into "Getting Married Today" from "Company." Dorothy Loudon began a "serious" rendition of "Losing My Mind" that turned into a farcical version of "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" from "Company."

Ms. LuPone's "Being Alive" and Daisy Eagan's "Broadway Baby" came close to stopping the show.

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