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SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM a revue in two acts. Original narration by Ned Sherrin. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with music also by Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne. First produced at the Mermaid Theatre, London, 4 May 1976 and subsequently transferred to Wyndham's Theatre, London, 7 July 1976 with Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie, David Kernan and Ned Sherrin. Produced at the Music Box, New York, 18 April 1977 with Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie, David Kernan and Ned Sherrin. SYNOPSIS Act I The evening opens with an opening number - or, rather, two of them: a real curtain raiser - Comedy Tonight - and a discarded one - Love Is in the Air With the air clear and the Three Singers safely positioned on their stools, the Narrator begins the difficult task of defining the entertainment before us: more a show than a play, on the whole, and devoted to the songs of one man, Stephen Sondheim. Like any dramatist, Sondheim has his favourite themes, among them marriage. In a quartet of songs on the subject, the daughters of a monstrous stage mother reflect (to Jule Styne's music) on how easier life would be If Momma Was Married; next, a middle-aged man tells his former lover, You Must Meet My Wife - perfect in every way, though an indefatigable virgin; then, a modern couple note that it's The Little Things You Do Together that keep a relationship alive; finally, on her wedding day a radiant bride decides that she's Not Getting Married Today. To leaven the diet of songs known and loved, the Narrator introduces a couple of obscurities: one, a number from a musical seen once and once only on ABC TV on 16 November 1966; the other, a reject from "Follies", dumped after the Boston tryout. In the first, a department store hermit attempts to recall the outside world (I Remember); the second is a rousing declaration: Can That Boy Foxtrot! Sondheim is a sharp delineator of smart contemporary Manhattan, brought vividly to life in a selection from "Company": the title song Company, Another Hundred People, Barcelona and Being Alive. In contrast, the next scene transports us to Vienna at the turn of the century and a brothel, whose versatile Madam boasts I Never Do Anything Twice. The first act concludes with a salute to Sondheim's predecessors in the shape of his affectionate pastiches of Irving Berlin (Beautiful Girls), ooh-la-la cabaret (Ah, Paree!), vaudevillian razzledazzle (Buddy's Blues), DeSylva, Brown and Henderson (Broadway Baby) and the Andrews Sisters (You Could Drive a Person Crazy). Act II The trio of singers return to protest at a world where you can't disturb the peace or walk on the grass: Everybody Says Don't. The Narrator reminds us of Sondheim's own versified protest against airline food - "The shiny stuff is tomatoes/The salad lies in a group" - before ushering in two of the composer's simplest and most affecting ballads, Anyone Can Whistle and Send In the Clowns. We all want absolute happiness, but maybe, like everything else, it's comparative: We're Gonna Be All Right, two people determine (to Richard Rodgers' music); their marriage is in a desperate state, but it's nothing to the trouble their friends are in. There follows a trio of Sondheim lyrics to the music of others: with Leonard Bernstein, A Boy Like That and I Have a Love; with Mary Rodgers, The Boy From … a little Spanish town called Tacarimba La Tumba Del Fuego Santa Maliga Sacategas Lo Onto Del Sol Y Cruz. That and the rest of the lyric was written by Sondheim under the pseudonym Esteban Ria Nido. After the exotic Latin rhythms, something earthier: a trio of Jolly Jack Tars proposition a Pretty Lady and a trio of well-worn burlesque strippers advise (to Jule Styne's music) that You Gotta Get a Gimmick. Then, "three soliloquies packed with emotion and imagery": Losing My Mind,