When Stephen Sondheim's witty show tunes get as elegant and sophisticated a performance as the cast of "Side by Side by Sondheim" is giving them at Saddleback College's Cabaret Theatre, it's time to do a double take.
You don't often come across this sort of theatrical scintillation--least of all in Orange County, and especially not when the show had to be revised in mid-run on short notice because of a rights problem.
The retrospective revue takes a cabaret-style look at tunes from such shows as "Company," "Follies," "Gypsy," "West Side Story," "A Little Night Music," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Pacific Overtures" and "The Mad Show."
Two songs in the second act--"The Boy From" and "You Gotta Get a Gimmick"--provided some of the most entertaining moments in an evening with a profusion of them. Myrona Delaney rendered both with a wonderfully light comic touch, incorporating an endearing parody of a Castillian lisp in the former and a savvy but not overdone bump-and-grind in the latter.
They were a wonderful match for Carole Best's second-act offering of "I Never Do Anything Twice," a vampish number done to satirical perfection. Meanwhile, George Quick turned the restored "Could I Leave You!" into another highlight, infusing the song with exceptional dramatic suspense while offering his usual vocal finesse.
But apart from the individual brilliance of the 32 numbers in all--many focusing on love, marriage and relationships--what is most impressive about this cabaret production of the Sondheim revue is the cohesive balance of the performers as a group.
Delaney, who is a soprano, has polish, conviction, range as an actress and all the right moves. Best, who is a belter, can sing the blues or the ballads. Her potent voice has a lush, dark tone. Quick, a baritone, is masterful in his phrasing and possesses a seemingly effortless song delivery.
Together with Terence Alaric, who lends solid musical support with an exceptionally subtle touch at the grand piano, they make an irresistible combination.
Because of ticket demand, the show has been extended for four performances through Aug. 18. It had been set to close Aug. 12.
"Side by Side by Sondheim"
Through Aug. 18 Thursdays to Saturdays at 8:30 p.m.; Sundays at 3:30 p.m.
Saddleback College's Cabaret Theatre, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo.
Off Interstate 5, go east on Avery Parkway, then north on Marguerite Parkway.
$8 to $11.
Where to call
(714) 582-4656 (weekdays between noon an 4 p.m.)