>> Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (BLU-RAY) (2010)

Show: Sondheim: The Birthday Concert

Genre: Other

Starring: Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin

Studio: Image Entertainment

Runtime: 116 minutes

Release Date: November 16, 2010

Format: BLU-RAY

Discs: 1

Rating: 2.00 (out of 4.00)

Grade: C

Official Site

If you’ve ever seen West Side Story or Sweeny Todd, and most of us have seen one or the other, then your familiar with Stephen Sondheim’s work. Sondheim! The Birthday Concert is a re-imagining of a night enjoyed by Lonny Price at age 14 back in 1973. The program is kind of a gift to both Stephen Sondheim as well as the next 14 year old who might have discovered himself in the audience that night. Hosted by David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) the evening is filled with all things Sondheim sung by some of the greatest stage names to star in his productions including Mandy Patinkin (Princess Bride), Bernadette Peters (Annie), Michael Cerveris (Fringe), Audra McDonald (Private Practice), and many more. Music performed by The New York Philharmonic at conducted by  longtime collaborator Paul Gemignani.

Seeing as how this is a staged production I’m going to cut it some slack. Lighting may play a key issue in how the colors are a bit drab, definition teetering on decent to not so great, but the quality when the camera’s point out into the audience to catch Stephen Sondheim’s reaction is unacceptable. During these instances when you get a shot of Sondheim the picture is terribly grainy. Grainy like you’ve just unearthed a poor copy of Sondheim! The Birthday Concert on VHS. For a release celebrating the man they certainly do a terrible job of covering his reactions in the audience. In any case I can certainly see this purchase being just as good on DVD. Audio is a evenly disbursed DTS HD MA 5.1 or Uncompressed PCM Stereo sound. Either sound great. To be truthful I enjoyed the performances of America (West Side Story) and Your Gonna Love Tomorrow/ Love Will See Us Through (Follies) but the rest of the performances, in such great clarity, didn’t impress me much.

None (Unless you count the liner notes by Lonny Price, which I don‘t.). Tsk tsk. With the life of Stephen Sondheim’s work extending farther back then before I was born there had have been something they could have tossed in; Biography on Sondheim, clips from a few of his productions being performed, interviews with people who have worked with him. I suppose they figure your getting 24 performances of his work that should be good enough.


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