Salutary celebration at Theatre Memphis
By Randall Hartzog
An opening night soiree will benefit Theatre Memphis on November 4, with the first public performance of A Sondheim Celebration, conceived and directed by Bennett Wood with musical direction from Dr. Gary Beard. The performance will be in the Next Stage and the party will include a cocktail buffet prior to the show with desserts and champagne to follow. The cost for the evening is $100 ($50 of which is tax-deductible) to the general public. Season members can attend for $85. The proceeds from the event will benefit all of the artistic programs at Theatre Memphis, and the evening is a tribute to the national award from the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) that was bestowed on Theatre Memphis for its making “major steps in new directions” as one of America’s best community theatres.
Debbie Litch, Theatre Memphis’ Executive Producer, says it is a proper time to rejoice in the accomplishments of Theatre Memphis. “Going into our 92nd consecutive year of performing for the Memphis community seemed an appropriate time to observe the gains that we have had in the most recent of years. With our single ticket sales and season memberships all increasing over the previous six years, the upgrades to our facility to keep it current and safe for all the volunteers and patrons, and now the national award from the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT), A Sondheim Celebration will be a great night to bring all of that into focus. It is representative of what we can do and have done within the community, and what could be more celebratory of theater than a compilation of Sondheim?”
A Sondheim Celebration will include staged numbers from composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s popular productions such as A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Originator of the production, Bennett Wood, agrees with Litch. “As a community theater, Theatre Memphis has been able to reproduce, create, perform, and archive productions with the community resources for almost a century. One of the greatest and most-honored theater artists of that time is Stephen Sondheim, whose dazzling range of work is an inspiring example of the variety that has graced TM stages for many, many years,” Wood relates. “The class and finesse of A Sondheim Celebration evening on November 4 will truly pay homage to the longevity of Theatre Memphis and its accomplishments.”
Regular performance dates for A Sondheim Celebration are November 4-20. Shows are at 7:30pm on Thursdays, 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees on Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $28 for adults and $15 for students with a valid ID. Call 901-682-8323 to purchase tickets or go online to theatrememphis.org.