Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim: a new comedy, with some music. Contains no music by Stephen Sondheim and is not endorsed by Stephen Sondheim or anyone who knows him.
In the glittering history of musical theatre, there are two names that stand out, that embody the finest in musical theatre. The first name is Stephen Sondheim, the genius composer whose work has been compared to that of Ravel and Gershwin. The second name is Satan, the multi-talented, award-winning singer/dancer/actor who has devoted his life to electrifying audiences.
This is the story of a struggle between two musical giants – Satan’s struggle to be accepted as a serious artist, and Sondheim’s struggle to avoid having his name associated with Satan.
Earlier this week writer and director Adam Long answered a few questions that I put to him, including asking about Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim.
You co-wrote and directed The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and also wrote and directed Dickens Abridged at the Arts Theatre. Why do you think these ‘reduced’ productions are so successful?
I have a great love of Shakespeare and a great love of Dickens. That affection for the subject is what I try to communicate to the audience… I guess that’s why the shows have been so well received. That’s where Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim comes from – the first musical I ever saw was Sam Mendes’s production of Assassins at the Donmar Warehouse. It was love at first sight!
You have performed in the West End, on tours, and Off-Broadway. Do you modify the show at all depending on where you are performing?
Yes – it’s a constant state of evolution, whether we’re performing in the West End, on tour, or off-Broadway. It drives stage managers crazy when the show changes from night to night, but that’s the way I enjoy working. It’s exciting to try different things, and constantly look for new ways to connect with the audience. In fact, we just wrote new song for Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim – and we open next week!
You have written and are directing Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim which opens at Jermyn Street Theatre in March. What can you tell us about the show?
My wife and I saw the Barbara Cook Sings Mostly Sondheim concert a few years ago. It was wonderful, but Barbara Cook had a slight growl in her voice and I commented that she sounded a bit like Satan. That prompted a thought experiment – what would happen if Satan tried to get the rights to perform an evening of Sondheim’s songs? Obviously, Sondheim would not want his name associated with Satan. How would Satan try to win Sondheim over? We imagined Satan as a middle-aged singer/dancer/actor who had enjoyed a good career on Broadway, but had never performed anything by Sondheim. Satan becomes obsessed, and with the help of his New York manager (Robert Schifrin, played by the wonderful and incredibly talented Mark Caven), he desperately attempts to win Sondheim’s approval…but, in the meantime, Satan has to come up with his own versions of Sondheim’s songs. For legal reasons, “Send in the Clowns” becomes “I’m Just a Clown”; “Officer Krupke” becomes “Security Guard Plonski” and so forth. We’ve actually managed to reference every single show that Sondheim ever wrote.
SATAN SINGS MOSTLY SONDHEIM
Cast: Adam Long and Mark Caven
Written and Directed by Adam Long
Lighting by Simon Cummin
Associate Producer Alex Jackson-Long
Simon Cummin for SJC Productions
Jermyn Street Theatre
Monday to Saturday 8.45pm, Saturday matinees 4.45pm
Saturday 29th March performance times 4.45pm & 8.45pm
(no performance Mon 10th March)
Running time approx 60 minutes (no interval)
Thursday 6th March 2014