Sam Johnson makes big Broadway video to raise funds for Theatre @41’s roof re-build

Banding and bonding: The Sam Johnson Big Band and and a galaxy of York musical theatre stars recording Broadway Baby to raise funds for Theatre @41’s roof renovation

TWENTY-ONE singers, 22 musicians and even four cats have come together – remotely, you can never herd cats – to make a fundraising video for Theatre @41 Monkgate’s roof renovation.

Under the musical direction and arranging skills of pianist Sam Johnson, they have recorded a big-band version of Broadway Baby, marking the 90th birthday year of composer Stephen Sondheim.

The video combines the Sam Johnson Big Band with cast members from the York musical theatre scene and you can see them in full swing on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6RcpRBJPwA

Donations through JustGiving can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/broadwaybabymonkgate

York band leader, tutor, composer, performer, producer and now video maker Sam says: “I put the video together, getting in touch with all the singers, after having put together four or five other videos with the Big Band. I thought it would be a good video to wrap them all up and to include such a large number of people together for the cause!

“I also noted that everyone in the video has benefited in some way from the Monkgate venue, whether it be through a performance or rehearsal.”

“It’s a good, brassy Broadway big-band number to mix the two ensembles together in the smoothest way possible,” says band leader Sam Johnson of Sondheim’s Broadway Baby

Explaining his choice of musical-theatre song, with its apposite Covid-era lyric of “Waiting for that one big chance to be in a show”, Sam says: “I went for Sondheim’s Broadway Baby song-wise as it’s from one of the shows I’ve enjoyed most working on at Monkgate when Pick Me Up Theatre staged Follies’ last year.

“It’s a good, brassy Broadway big-band number to mix the two ensembles together in the smoothest way possible!”

Welcoming the fundraising boost of Broadway Baby, Theatre @41 board secretary Jo Hird – whose “dressing up is better than my vocals” on the video – says: “With Theatre @41 closed, we’re trying to crack on with as much decorating and renovating as we can, so as not to disrupt shows when we’re allowed to reopen.

“One of the shows we had to postpone was Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sondheim 90: A Birthday Concert to celebrate the New York composer’s 90th birthday. How brilliant of Sam Johnson to put Broadway Baby together. It took a lot of coordinating. 

Sam Johnson in rehearsal with his big band in pre-Covid days

“We’re really grateful to Sam for bringing this fundraiser to life because we need every penny we can get to repair our roof and keep our Monkgate building open.”

The cast taking part in the recording were: Susannah Baines; Emily Chattle; Emma-Louise Dickinson; Anna Hale; Iain Harvey; Sam Hird; Jo Hird; Darren Lumby; Sandy Nicholson; Adam Price; Emily Ramsden; Tracey Rea; Andrew Roberts; Rosy Rowley; Lauren Sheriston; Maggie Smales; Joanne Theaker; Dave Todd; Juliet Waters; Natalie Walker and Jennie Wogan.

Joining pianist, musical director and arranger Sam Johnson in the band were Katie Wood and Katie Maloney on alto sax; Richard Oakman and Stephen Donoghue on tenor sax; Nick Jones on baritone sax and a multitude of trumpet players, Connor McLean, Sam Rees, Charles Tomlinson, James Lolley, Daniel Dickson and Leo James Conroy.

So too did trombonists Anna Marshall, Lauren Ingham and Fliss Simpson; violinists Claire Jowett and Emily Jones, viola player Jess Douglas; cellist Lucy McLuckie; guitarist Tom Holmes; upright bassist Georgia Johnson and Andy Hayes on the drum kit.

Look out too for cameo appearances by a quartet of cats, Strummer, Misty, Paris and Bob.

Opera North and Leeds Playhouse postpone Sondheim’s A Little Night Music

The artwork for the postponed Opera North and Leeds Playhouse co-production of A Little Night Music

OPERA North is cancelling or postponing all “public-facing activity” until at least the end of April, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Leeds company also confirmed the postponement of this season’s co-production of Stephen Sondheim’s acerbic musical A Little Night Music with Leeds Playhouse. Rehearsals had been due to start this morning for the May 9 opening to mark the year when the New York composer turned 90 yesterday.

“Our immediate priority is the health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff, and we hope to be able to mount the production in a future season,” said Opera North general director Richard Mantle.

Stephen Sondheim: composer of the 1973 musical A Little Night Musical

“This is undoubtedly a time of great challenge for Opera North and our peers but we are determined to respond with creativity and resilience.

“We will honour the contracts of all guest artists to the end of our current main stage opera season and those of guest orchestral players until the end of April.”

Mr Mantle continued: “We are working with our many education and community partners to ascertain what work can still be delivered in those settings, and will focus our creativity and core resources on finding new ways of using music and opera to enhance people’s lives. In these uncertain times, it feels more important than ever that we use music to connect with each other.”

A close-up of the Orchestra of Opera North. Picture: Justin Slee

Opera North remains hopeful that the 2020-2021 season will go ahead as planned in September. In the meantime, the company is working on finding other ways to share its art form with audiences, including online resources. 

Opera North’s livestream of The Turn Of The Screw is available via OperaVision at 
operavision.eu/en/library/performances/operas/turn-screw-opera-north; the full Opera North Ring Cycle at operanorth.co.uk/the-ring-cycle/; the 2017 production of Trouble In Tahiti via Now TV and Sky on-demand services.

For updated information on Opera North event cancellations and postponements, visit  operanorth.co.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19-update/.

Pick Me Up to mark Sondheim’s 90th birthday with a not so little night of music

90th birthday celebrations: Stephen Sondheim

PICK Me Up Theatre will celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday in a night of song on March 22, the very day the New York composer and lyricist enters his tenth decade.

Already the York company has produced four of his musicals, Into The Woods, Assassins, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and Follies.

“So, on the evening of the great man’s 90th, we’ll be presenting an evening of his finest music in his honour with a cast of 21, performing under musical director Tim Selman on piano,” says artistic director Robert Readman, who will be among those 21 voices at the John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York.

“This will be one performance only of songs from every show, movie and TV special Sondheim has written the words and music to, from 1955 through to 2013.”

Group numbers will include Children Will Listen; Our Time; Not Getting Married Today; Bring Me My Bride and Sunday, alongside music from A Little Night Music; Dick Tracey; Sweeney Todd; Company; Roadshow; Follies; Into The Woods, Anyone Can Whistle and Sunday In The Park With George.

Performing with Readman at 7.30pm will be Andrew Isherwood; Alan Park; Jennie Wogan; Darren Lumby; Emma Louise Dickinson; David Radford; Susannah Baines; Andrew Roberts; Ed Atkin; Frankie Bounds; Natalie Walker; Adam Price; Mark Hird; Sam Hird; Catherine Foster; Alex Mather; Maya Tether; Flo Poskitt; Juliet Waters and Ryan Smith.

Tickets for Sondheim 90, A Birthday Concert, cost £15, concessions £13, on 01904 523568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or pickmeuptheatre.com or in person from York Gin, in Pavement, or the York Theatre Royal box office.

The full programme for Sondheim 90, A Birthday Concert:

INTRODUCTION – The Frogs – ANDREW ISHERWOOD & ALAN PARK

THE TWO OF YOU – Kukla, Fran & Ollie – JENNIE WOGAN

TAKE ME TO THE WORLD – Evening Primrose – DARREN LUMBY & EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON

THEY ASK ME WHY I BELIEVE IN YOU – I Believe In You – DAVID RADFORD

EVERYBODY SAYS DON’T – Anyone Can Whistle – SUSANNAH BAINES

SATURDAY NIGHT – Saturday Night – ANDREW ROBERTS, ED ATKIN, FRANKIE BOUNDS, ANDREW ISHERWOOD & COMPANY

SO MANY PEOPLE – Saturday Night – NATALIE WALKER & ADAM PRICE

THE BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED – Road Show – SAM HIRD & ADAM PRICE

LOVE I HEAR – A Funny Thing Happened On To The Way To The Forum – FRANKIE BOUNDS

BRING ME MY BRIDE – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum – MARK HIRD

RAIN ON THE ROOF – Follies – ANDREW ROBERTS & CATHERINE FOSTER

YOU COULD DRIVE A PERSON CRAZY – Company – ALEX MATHER, EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON & MAYA TETHER

GETTING MARRIED TODAY – Company – FLO POSKITT

AGONY – Into The Woods – DARREN LUMBY & SAM HIRD

MOVE ON – Sunday In The Park With George – EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON & ADAM PRICE

THE LADIES WHO LUNCH – Company – JULIET WATERS

GOODBYE FOR NOW – Reds – DARREN LUMBY

LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT – Dick Tracy – DAVID RADFORD

MORE – Dick Tracy – MAYA TETHER

NOT A DAY GOES BY – Merrily We Roll Along – ALEX MATHER

FEAR NO MORE – The Frogs – SAM HIRD

CHILDREN WILL LISTEN – Into The Woods – SUSANNAH BAINES & COMPANY

OUR TIME – Merrily We Roll Along – FULL COMPANY

Second half:

PRETTY LADY – Pacific Overtures – DAVID RADFORD, ED ATKIN & ANDREW ROBERTS

KISS ME/LADIES IN THEIR SENSITIVITIES – Sweeney Todd – ALEX MATHER, SAM HIRD, MARK HIRD & RYAN SMITH

JOHANNA – Sweeney Todd – ED ATKIN

NOT WHILE I’M AROUND – Sweeney Todd – JENNIE WOGAN

A LITTLE PRIEST – Sweeney Todd – RYAN SMITH & SUSANNAH BAINES

GIANTS IN THE SKY – Into The Woods – FRANKIE BOUNDS

THE MILLER’S SONG – A Little Night Music – EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON

BROADWAY BABY – Follies – FLO POSKITT

LOVE WILL SEE US THROUGH/YOU’RE GONNA LOVE TOMORROW – Follies – SAM HIRD, ADAM PRICE, EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON & NATALIE WALKER

THE BALLAD OF GUITEAU – Assassins – SAM HIRD & MARK HIRD

FRANKLIN SHEPARD INC. – Merrily We Roll Along – ALAN PARK

EVERYBODY OUGHT TO HAVE A MAID – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum – SAM HIRD, MARK HIRD, ROBERT READMAN & ANDREW ROBERTS

ANYONE CAN WHISTLE – Anyone Can Whistle – ALEX MATHER

NO ONE HAS EVER LOVED ME – Passion – ADAM  PRICE

LOVING YOU – Passion – SUSANNAH BAINES

UNWORTHY OF YOUR LOVE – Assassins – ALAN PARK & CATHERINE FOSTER

LOSING MY MIND – Follies – MAYA TETHER

WHAT CAN YOU LOSE – Dick Tracy – DARREN LUMBY

BEING ALIVE – Company – DAVID RADFORD

SEND IN THE CLOWNS – A Little Night Music – JULIET WATERS

BIRTHDAY CAKE SCENE – Company

SUNDAY – Sunday In The Park With George – FULL COMPANY.