Drama Dock offers up a feast of Sondheim songs
By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor
April 24, 2012 · Updated 4:16 PM
Aficionados of musical theater, rejoice — there will be two performances of the revue “Side by Side by Sondheim” this weekend.
The show, a compendium of some of the best-loved songs by Broadway’s most celebrated living composer and lyricist, had a Tony-nominated run on Broadway in the late 1970s and has subsequently been produced by theater companies all over the world.
Now, it’s time for Islanders to sit back and soak up Stephen Sondheim’s intricate melodies and wickedly witty lyrics.
“Side by Side” includes songs from “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “Follies,” Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods,” “Company,” “A Little Night Music,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and several other shows from the Sondheim canon.
Elizabeth Ripley, Drama Dock’s artistic director, is excited to raise the curtain on the show, in part because she believes that too few Islanders are aware of Sondheim’s genius and legacy.
“In musical theater, Stephen Sondheim has a nickame: God,” she said with a laugh. “He is a god in man’s form on the planet writing musical theater.”
Ripley noted that few of the composer’s musicals have been produced on Vashon, and all of those were youth shows, including high school productions of “West Side Story” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and last year’s Drama Dock-produced teen production of “Into the Woods.”
But, with “Side by Side by Sondheim,” adult Island singers will take center stage.
The show’s cast includes such Drama Dock stalwarts as Ripley, Marshall Murray, Stephanie Murray, Louie Mangione, Marita Ericksen, J.R. Crawford, Max Lopuszynski, Gretchen Neffenger, Elizabeth Schoen, Arlette Moody, Phil Dunn, Stephen Floyd, Earthsong, Shannon Flora, Lauri Hennessey, Elizabeth Anthony and Richard Montague.
The show will also feature a choir of kids from Drama Dock’s Youth Theatre Initiative, singing the poignant song, “Children Will Listen.”
The show, scheduled for two performances only, is being staged for a good cause — to raise much-needed funds for the Island’s beloved community theater company, Drama Dock.
Drama Dock, now in its 36th year as part of the fabric of Vashon’s cultural life, has produced shows ranging from huge musicals such as “The Sound of Music” and “Annie,” to edgier fare including last year’s “Rocky Horror Show.”
But Ripley said that Drama Dock needs the community’s ongoing support to continue to present such eclectic work.
“Doing theater is a money-losing proposition, and theaters are closing left and right,” she said. “We are funded entirely by ticket sales, membership and volunteers, and we only charge between $7.50 and $20 for tickets.”
She hopes that Islanders will turn out in droves for “Side by Side,” and revel in the talents of both Sondheim and local performers.
“This will be a grand gathering of talent not to be missed,” she said.
“Side by Side by Sondheim” will be presented at 7:30 Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, at Vashon High School. Tickets, $10 to $20, are on sale at Vashon Bookshop and at the door.
Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor Elizabeth Shepherd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-463-9195.