Another new decade, another milestone gala for Stephen the Incomparable. Any year but this, Take Me To the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration would have lit up Carnegie Hall, Radio City, or one of the grandest Broadway palaces. But no, in our work-at-home, touch-me-not Age of the Coronavirus, the show unfolded in cyberspace on April 26. There it will remain in perpetuity, available to stream free on demand. The party’s not over.
Clocking in at a trim two-and-a-half hours, Take Me to the World showcases three-dozen Sondheim aficionados in a grab bag of signature favorites and bombshell bonbons. Sutton Foster leads the charge, bursting with anticipation in “There Won’t Be Trumpets.” Next up is Neil Patrick Harris, letter-perfect in “The Witch’s Rap”—a serpentine spoken-word tongue-twister chosen, Harris deadpans, to show off his vocal range. Then comes the seraphic Kelli O’Hara, enraptured by Big City electricity in “What More Do I Need.” The penultimate solo falls to Patti LuPone, who chose “Anyone Can Whistle,” she says simply, “because it moves me deeply.” Then Bernadette Peters wraps up with “No One Is Alone,” a quartet she used to listen to from the wings when she was starring as the Witch in the original Into the Woods. “I thought this might just be the perfect song right now,” she explains. Shared a cappella, without adornment, it proves both brave and fragile.