U.S. theater stars sing "Happy Birthday" to Sondheim

Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:20pm EST
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The leading lights of U.S. musical theater will sing "Happy Birthday" to the great Broadway composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim on his 80th birthday in two New York Philharmonic concerts next week.

The concerts, on March 15 and March 16, will include songs and orchestral pieces from Sondheim musical theater favorites like "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "Sweeney Todd," "Merrily We Roll Along," "Into The Woods," and "Sunday in the Park with George," in addition to rarely heard material.

Tony Award winner Sondheim is considered by many to be the greatest Broadway composer/lyricist of his time. In addition to writing the music and lyrics for plays, he also co-composed the music for the film "Reds" in 1981 and wrote songs for the movie "Dick Tracy" in 1990.

Actor David Hyde Pierce will host the celebration, which will include such stars of the stage as Victoria Clark, Nathan Gunn, George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Marin Mazzie, Audra McDonald, Donna Murphy, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters.

Dancers from the American Ballet Theater (ABT) will participate, along with some surprise guests.

Paul Gemignani, Sondheim's longtime collaborator, will conduct the New York. Lonny Price directs.

<p>Stephen Sondheim poses as he arrives at a special screening of the DreamWorks Pictures film "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California December 5, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>