Side By Side By Sondheim, which closes the North Coast Repertory Theatre’s 33rd season, is a celebration of the legendary lyricist and composer, who really needs no introduction. Accompanied by two pianists onstage, Randall Dodge, Angelina Reaux, Rena Strober and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper (who also narrates about Sondheim’s spectacular career) croon or belt out, whichever is called for, nearly 30 of the master’s show tunes. Most are classics from powerhouses like Gypsy, West Side Story and Company, but a few are on the obscure side.
The fun-loving ensemble adds theatricality to the proceedings by incorporating sight gags and other comedy bits, though individually they tend to oversell some of the ballads. Nevertheless, Side by Side … is a thoroughly entertaining evening of Sondheim for fans, and for those brushing up on their Broadway history, it makes for a lively musical education.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat