Stars Shine At Mac-Haydn Limited Run Sondheim Tribute Revue

Mac-Haydn stalwarts lit up the stage with a wonderful, but all-too-short tribute to Stephen Sondheim. The cast of six Mac vets spend the evening paying tribute to one of the most revered composer/lyricists in American theater. Each performer was invited to pick from the Sondheim songbook and perform works that resonated with them. The show covers a wide variety of music; interestingly enough, many of the chosen numbers are not from what one may consider Sondheim’s A-List. It was refreshing to hear pieces that might not at once bring the maestro’s name to mind. 

That being said, the show opened with the company in a delightful performance of the iconic Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To The Forum.

The six performers presented a mix of duets, solos, love songs, and comic numbers, showcasing a wide range of the Sondheim songbook. Gabe Belyeu, who never fails to delight the audience, did not disappoint. Particularly well received was his rendition of Love’s a Bond from Saturday Night. Madison Stratton joined Beyleu with a touching rendition of Passion’s Happiness, then went on to wow the crowd with the stirring Not a Day Goes By from Merrily We Roll Along.

Julie Galorenzo performed a wonderfully intricate rendition of Getting Married Today from Company.  The song, originally written for a trio, was performed with a mix of hysteria, fear and passion by Galorenzo doing all three parts. James Benjamin Rodgers, Mac-Haydn’s Managing Director, returned to the boards as by far the most outstanding voice of the evening. He did a magnificent job with Marry Me A Little from Company and a stirring duet with Beyleu of  Into The WoodsNo More.

It was wonderful to see Producing Artistic Director John Saunders return to the footlights. Directing the show as well as participating, Saunders’s booming voice was in fine form as he shared a delightful duet, It Takes Two from Into the Woods, with Monica Wemitt. His comic rendition of Company’s You Could Drive a Person Crazy, another song originally written and performed by the wives of the three couples in the show, was enchanting.

The most exciting moment was presented to us by long-time Mac-Haydn fixture Monica Wemitt. Wemitt, who retired from the theatre at the end of last season to focus on a new venture in her life, returned to the stage. What a pleasure it was to watch her once again  and know that time has not dimmed her vocal talents at all. The most moving moment of the evening was her stunning rendition of Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music. The ease in her manner and delivery proved that Ms. Wemitt still has the ability to charm and move the audience with just a look, a smile, and the sound of her voice.

Overarching the entire evening was Music Director and Accompanist Jillian Zack. Zack’s talent appears boundless.  Watching her fingers fly across the keyboard and hearing her mastery of the music was worth the evening itself. 

The tribute was enhanced by various Sondheim quotes projected on the theatre’s walls. Most memorable among them: “When the audience comes in, it changes the temperature of what you’ve written.” “If you ask me to write a love song, I don’t know what to write.”And, the quote presented in the program to the audience rather sums up his philosophy on theater: “I love theater as much as music, and the whole idea of getting across to an audience and making them laugh, making them cry-just making them feel is paramount to me.”

Regrettably, the evening was short, with no banter or introduction to the numbers at all. Clearly, this brings full attention and focus to the music, but it also shortens the production considerably. Coming in at just an hour, the audience was left wanting more.  This was a case where more would certainly be more. I feel Sondheim would have been pleased with the personal interpretation and innovative twists brought to his music.

For more information on the remainder of the Mac-Haydn season, go to

Comments are closed.