Stage Door News

Toronto: Mirvish theatres will dim their lights to honour Stephen Sondheim

Monday, November 29, 2021

On November 26, 2021 Stephen Sondheim died suddenly at his home in Connecticut and the world lost one of its most revered and vital artists.

"Sondheim was and will always remain a titan of theatre,” said David Mirvish. "He was a composer and lyricist who expanded the musical form in ways that always surprised, sometimes challenged and most often made audiences sit up and pay attention. He wrote songs the way Shakespeare wrote plays, the way Picasso painted pictures, the way Beethoven and Mozart composed symphonies, the way Tolstoy wrote novels.

"Although he always acknowledged his collaborators and spoke passionately about how the theatre was a collective creation, he himself was a singular artist the likes of which has never been seen before and may never be seen again.

"The world is poorer with his passing, but what a body of work he has given us."

In Toronto, that work was seen mostly on the stages of the Mirvish theatres. Over the years nine productions of Sondheim musicals have played at the Royal Alexandra, the Princess of Wales and the CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre. The master himself appeared on the stage of the Princess of Wales on December 10, 2010 in An Evening with Stephen Sondheim, a celebratory event for his 80th birthday year in the form of a live interview with critic Robert Cushman.

Besides presenting touring production of Sondheim shows in his theatres in Toronto, David Mirvish also produced the UK premiere of Sondheim’s Into The Woods at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End in 1990. Directed by Richard Jones, with set design by Richard Hudson, choreography by Anthony Van Laast, costumes by Sue Blane and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, the production starred Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton and Clive Carter. The show received seven Olivier Award nominations in 1991, winning for Best Actress in a Musical (Staunton) and Best Director of a Musical (Jones).

In the theatre there is no higher honour than for theatres to dim their marquee lights at the customary curtain time, 8 pm. And that’s exactly what will happen on Tuesday, November 30 at 8 pm at the CAA Ed Mirvish, the Princess of Wales and the Royal Alexandra theatres.

Shows by Stephen Sondheim that played in Mirvish theatres:

The Royal Alexandra Theatre:

1965 Gypsy starring June Wilson & Arlene Meadows

1971 Company starring George Chakiris & Elaine Stritch

1973 Twigs, by George Furth, with incidental music by Sondheim, starring Sada Thompson

1974 Gypsy starring Angela Lansbury

1974 A Little Night Music starring Jean Simmons

1977 Side by Side by Sondheim starring Georgia Brown

1982 Sweeney Todd starring Ross Petty & June Havoc

The Princess of Wales Theatre:

2007 Sweeney Todd starring Alexander Gemignani & Judy Kaye

2010 An Evening with Stephen Sondheim

The CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre:

2010 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Sean Cullen & Bruce Dow

Photo: Stephen Sondheim.