BWW Reviews: Watertower Theatre's PUTTING IT TOGETHER Makes Sondheim Fans of Everyone
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by Jennifer Smart
It's not hard to make the claim that Stephen Sondheim is America's greatest living composer/lyricist, and he is undoubtedly the man that almost singlehandedly redefined and helped revive the American musical in the 1970's.
It's also hard to conceive of another contemporary composer who will ever command the cult following and fan club Sondheim has cultivated over his career. So when a theater company opts to produce what amounts to a greatest hits show of the composer's music, it's almost impossible to fail.
This is certainly true of Watertower Theatre's production of Sondheim's Putting it Together, a show crafted by Sondheim to essentially merge an array of both his famous and lesser-known songs into a "plot." The show focuses on the music while portraying a skeleton story of two couples at a cocktail party, resembling one of Sondheim's relationship, or concept musicals. Company is the first to come to mind.
Since the story is minor, the show is all about the singing and direction, and Watertower's cast of singers certainly delivers.
Three men and two women played here by John Campione, Bob Hess, Alex Organ, Diana Sheehan and Sarah ElizaBeth Smith take their audience on a whirlwind tour of Sondheim's erudite and poignant lyrics and music, and in doing so leave the audience wanting more when the two hour show draws to a close. It's a ridiculously fun ride for even those who consider themselves only cursory Sondheim fans.
Highlights of Watertower's production include Hess and Smith's "Hello, Little Girl," the company's rendition of "Bang!" and Organ's showstopping "Unworthy of Your Love". Sheehan does an excellent job with the challenging verbosity of "I'm Not Get Married" and her performance in "Could I Leave You?" is spot on.
Directed by Watertower's artistc director Terry Martin, the show seamlessly jumps from vignette to vignette with cute and endearing choreography and a flashy, neon set which fittingly calls to mind the 1970's, the life of the rich and the New York City glamor prevalent in Sondheim's shows.
All in all it's a light and light-hearted romp through Sondheim's gorgeous music, and even though some heavy hitters, most notably "Losing My Mind," are missing from the setlist, the rescue of some lesser-known gems more than makes up for their absence.