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Sondheim Revue Delights Playhouse Audiences

by Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

It was all about Stephen Sondheim at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse over the weekend, as the singers of the Wicked Good Musical Revue paid tribute to their favorite composer-lyricist.

The briskly-paced, 75-minute show ranged from rollicking good fun ­— as in the opening number, Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which the chorus changed to “Sondheim tonight” — to aching regret, most movingly in Jenny Friedman’s sensitive interpretation of Send In the Clowns.

The Wicked Good singers usually don’t repeat songs from year to year, but for Sondheim they made some exceptions. Ms. Friedman and baritone David Behnke reprised their charming January 2019 performance of It Takes Two, from Into the Woods, Mr. Sondheim’s second musical with seasonal Edgartown resident James Lapine.

The show also revisited Getting Married Today, the hilariously frantic inner monologue of a panicked bride from the show Company, which Wicked Good soprano Molly Conole sang in 2019.

In keeping with the latest Broadway revival of Company — in which the nuptial pair are gay — tenor Ken Romero delivered the breathless patter song, rife with Sondheim’s interior rhymes and wordplay.

“I wish I was getting paid by the lyric,” Mr. Romero quipped afterward, as the audience applauded.

Other highlights of the show included Rachel Cook and Katherine Reid’s nostalgic duet Broadway Baby, from Follies, and Mr. Behnke and Mr. Romero’s rendition of Agony, the song of two comically bewildered Princes Charming from Into the Woods.

In Saturday night’s performance of the song, Mr. Romero, absent due to another commitment, was replaced as prince by actor-singer Paul Doherty, who also sang Mr. Romero’s part in Old Friends, a group number from Merrily We Roll Along.

In Do I Hear A waltz, revue co-founder Molly Conole revealed her gifts for both winsome comedy and sublime singing, with a coloratura flourish to finish the song.

Island audiences were more than ready for the return of the Wicked Good revue, a staple of off-season entertainment that ran monthly from January through April in pre-pandemic times. Even with a mask requirement in effect, the 99-seat playhouse was nearly full Friday, sold out Saturday and more than half full Sunday, Mr. Doherty said.

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