April 16, 2023

SIU’s McLeod Theater hosts ‘Sondheim Tribute Revue’ April 20-23

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The talents of more than a dozen Southern Illinois University Carbondale musical theater students will pay tribute to the late American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim Thursday through Sunday, April 20-23.

The SIU School of Theater and Dance and the SIU School of Music will present “Sondheim Tribute Revue” in the Communications Building McLeod Theater on campus. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

The performance features 15 undergraduate musical theater students in the cast and three graduate students in the School of Music in the band. Angela C. Shultz, an assistant professor of practice in the School of Music, is the director, and Darryl Clark, assistant professor, musical theater and dance, is choreographer.

Taking a ‘deep dive’ into Sondheim’s work

Sondheim, whom The New York Times called a “Titan of the American Musical,” died in November 2021 at the age of 91. During his storied career spanning seven decades, Sondheim wrote for Broadway, films and television. He earned eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for the song “Sooner or Later” for the 1990 film “Dick Tracy.” He shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with author James Lapine for the musical “Sunday in the Park with George.” He also received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and in 2017 was the first composer-lyricist to win the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award.

Shultz said she has been a fan of Sondheim’s work since she was the age of the students in the show.

“I’ve always been drawn to the depth and wittiness of his lyrics and the multilayered complexity of his music,” she said. “To work on this show with these students has been a dream.”

Shultz explained that through a hybrid of coursework and rehearsals, “we have been able to take a deep dive into Sondheim’s musicals, paying special attention to how his style has evolved over time.”

“This ‘Sondheim Tribute Revue’ is our chance to share our love and reverence of this legend of Broadway who has influenced every generation of musical theater writers, including Jason Robert Brown and Lin-Manuel Miranda,” she said.

H.D. Motyl, associate professor and director in the School of Theater and Dance, said the performance, which features several graduating seniors in musical theater in the cast, highlights their vocal talents and is “a wonderful last show for them in our program.”

“Sondheim is an icon of contemporary musical theater, and his loss is major in the theater community,” Motyl said. “His legacy, however, of amazing music and clever lyrics will be with us forever, and our production highlights a lot of those songs and is, in our small way, our tribute to the man and his genius.”

Ticket information

The production is part of the School of Theater and Dance’s 2022-23 season. All performances will be in McLeod Theater, located in the Communications Building. Individual tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens and $8 for students.

Tickets for all the productions are available by contacting the McLeod Theater Box Office or the SIU Arena Box Office at theateranddance.siu.edu or 618-453-6000.

The production is sponsored in part by Fine Arts Activity Fee funds. The revue is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theater International on behalf of Sondheim’s estate.