For its season’s climactic Spring Gala, the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) paid well-deserved tribute to composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and his unique songs. NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier presided from the Steinway piano, assisted by Associate Director Michael Barrett. Sondheim was the guest of honor. And Jamie Bernstein and Hal Prince chaired the event, which included dinner at 21, following the concert, at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, of Sondheim selections familiar and rare, sung by theater and opera singers, experienced and up-and-coming.
Emerging artists Meredith Lustig, soprano, and Theo Hoffman, baritone, twined stories, fantastic and frank, around one another in “Two Fairy Tales,” cut from “A Little Night Music,” and followed up with “Take Me to the World,” the haunting, yearning-for-escape romanza from “Evening Primrose.”
Pamela Myers, who created the role of Marta, in “Company,” made an enthusiastic return to the New York stage to deliver “Another Hundred People,” her song from the show, and joined forces with theater’s Ron Raines for the romantic, revelatory, and (figuratively) murderous waltz “You Must Meet My Wife,” from “A Little Night Music.”
A quintet of numbers from “Sweeney Todd” featured operatic bass-baritone Greer Grimsley and mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee, with other company members. Grimsley and Raines praised “Pretty Women,” and made plain the malicious tone underlying the ode. Grimsley lent an ebony instrument and larger-than-life presence to a searing “Epiphany,” Sweeney’s vengeful credo, and he and Bybee savored the dark delights of the (literally) murderous “A Little Priest.” Hoffman offered a direct and endearing “Not While I’m Around” and Bybee shared Mrs. Lovett’s cheerful daydream in “By the Sea.”
Raines gave us “The Road You Didn’t Take,” poised between satisfaction and meltdown, from “Follies.” Lustig’s solo was a gently jazzy “The Girls of Summer,” from the incidental music for the play of the same name, and Hoffman’s was an eager “Talent,” a budding patron of the arts’ statement, from “Road Show” aka “Bounce.” For an exuberant finale, Myers headed the ensemble’s “Broadway Baby,” from “Follies,” and aptly addressed the lines sung to “Mr. Producer” to Prince in the front row.
for information about the 2017-18 season, NYFOS’ 30th.