In music and conversation, we celebrate the life and work of one of the most influential cultural figures of the last 70 years, the Tony, Oscar, Grammy, Olivier and Pulitzer winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
Born to a New York Jewish family in 1930, over the next 91 years he changed the shape of musical theatre with shows including West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Company and Sweeney Todd.
Guardian film critic Leslie Felperin is joined by Sondheim’s friend and official biographer David Benedict. And West End & Broadway star Jenna Russell, who worked with Sondheim on five productions over three decades and won the Olivier for Sunday in the Park with George, will share both memories and songs, accompanied on piano by Nigel Lilley, whose credits as musical director include Follies at the National and Caroline or Change in the West End.
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Critic and broadcaster David Benedict is the former arts editor of The Observer and theatre editor of The Independent. He is currently the London critic for Variety, a weekly columnist on The Stage and a regular guest on TV and radio arts programmes. He is writing the authorised biography of Stephen Sondheim and plays Tristram Hawkshaw on The Archers.
Jenna Russell is an Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated actress. Her recent theatre credits include Piaf in Piaf at the Nottingham Playhouse and Leeds Playhouse and Celebrating Sondheim at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Nigel Lilley trained at King’s College, London and the Royal College of Music, receiving the DipRam award. He was elected as an associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2013. He regularly teaches and co-wrote the book Thank You – That’s All We Need For Today with vocal coach, Mary Hammond.