Categories Charity Old Friends Philanthropy Review Theatre

THE TIMES REVIEW: Sondheim’s ‘Old Friends’

Five Stars: A Star-Spangled, Unforgettable Tribute to Stephen Sondheim

by Clive Davis | The Times | May 4, 2022

Photo: Danny Kaan

Excuse me if I gush, but this was one of those nights where it was difficult to focus on highlights simply because there were so many. Cameron Mackintosh’s memorial concert for Stephen Sondheim, who died in November, began on a high note when the veteran Julia McKenzie, who did so much to champion the composer’s work on this side of the Pond, walked onto the stage to sing Side by Side by Side. Proof, if needed, that British artists don’t need to feel like intruders on this territory. They’ve made the music their own.

McKenzie’s appearance was the kind of moment which, in normal circumstances, would crown a memorable evening. In this case it was just the prelude. Of course, it was all the more fitting that this gala concert for the Stephen Sondheim Foundation was happening at the theatre (formerly known as the Queen’s) that bears the artist’s name. In his opening speech, Mackintosh wryly quipped that the twisted ankle that had prevented the great man from attending the opening in 2020 had just been an excuse to avoid having to sit through Les Misérables.

After Mackintosh had his say, the songs began to flow, with no host to cause any longueurs. Matthew Bourne and Maria Friedman — who shared directing credits — managed to cram in an immense range of material. Meanwhile, the cheering and the applause grew louder and louder. It reached its peak, perhaps, in a comic version of Broadway Baby, which began with McKenzie pretending to audition with a surly pianist before being joined by a blowsy pack of rivals including Bernadette Peters, Bonnie Langford and an insouciant Helena Bonham Carter.

Imelda Staunton sang Everything’s Coming Up Roses. Who else but Judi Dench could be entrusted with Send in the Clowns? If Dench’s delivery barely rose above a whisper, Haydn Gwynne powered through a version of The Ladies Who Lunch that was as potent and savage and tipsy as anything the late Elaine Stritch gave us. A twinkle-eyed Damian Lewis joined in the party too, kicking and shimmying his way through the risqué Everybody Ought to Have a Maid alongside Rob Brydon, Julian Ovenden and a mischievous Sian Phillips. As ever, the elegant Janie Dee glowed in the dark, sizzling through the bossa nova parody The Boy Friend.

Read the rest of the original article at The Times

Categories Charity Old Friends Philanthropy Review Theatre

LONDON THEATRE REVIEW: Sondheim’s ‘Old Friends’

A Tribute for the Ages

by Matt Wolf | London Theatre | May 4, 2022

“He’s left us with an impossible choice.” So the impresario Cameron Mackintosh told an entirely rapt crowd near the start of Old Friends, the one-off celebration of Stephen Sondheim that took place across three unforgettable hours May 3 at the Sondheim Theatre on the West End. “Impossible” because the legendary composer-lyricist left behind a capacious back catalogue when he died last November, age 91, not to mention a longlist of people who will forever be associated with his work.

Mackintosh, heralding an array of talent ranging from the “young to the ever young”, kicked off an evening rife with cheers and ovations on what, we were told, was one day shy of the 46th anniversary of the London premiere of Side By Side By Sondheim. That musical revue, produced by a then 29-year-old Mackintosh, helped bring Sondheim to the attention of the British, who have revered him ever since.

Continue reading LONDON THEATRE REVIEW: Sondheim’s ‘Old Friends’

Categories Charity Old Friends Philanthropy Review Theatre

GUARDIAN REVIEW: Sondheim’s ‘Old Friends’

A Glorious All-Star Memorial Service: Five Stars, Ten If Rules Allowed

by Mark Lawson | The Guardian | May 4, 2022

Photo: Danny Kaan

Stephen Sondheim was so vast a talent that London on Tuesday night required two theatres to remember him, after his death in November aged 91. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and staged by Maria Friedman – longtime collaborators who personify the title Old Friends, from a number in 1981’s Merrily We Roll Along – the show at the Sondheim (named in tribute in 2019) was simulcast on the Prince Edward stage, a version of technology developed for the NT Live theatre-cinema hybrid, though not usually used between venues 0.17 miles apart.

Caused by ticket demand (proceeds to the Stephen Sondheim foundation), this arrangement bestowed immediacy in the eponymous auditorium but the overspill audience gained greater detail from closeups and cutaways.

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Categories Charity Old Friends Philanthropy Review Theatre

DEADLINE REVIEW: Sondheim’s ‘Old Friends’

Vamping It Up 

by Baz Bamigboye | Deadline | May 3, 2022

Photo: Danny Kaan

Cameron Mackintosh, the London theatre owner and impresario, nixed the idea of having a host introduce artists performing at Tuesday’s one-night-only Old Friends tribute show honoring the legacy of musical theatre genius Stephen Sondheim, who died in November at age 91.

“All you need are Steve’s words and music, and our cast. They speak, or rather sing, for themselves,“ Mackintosh explained to Deadline before the star-studded event began at London’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Worked like a treat. Thirty minutes saved, because Old Friends wasn’t lumbered with a host.

Continue reading DEADLINE REVIEW: Sondheim’s ‘Old Friends’

Categories Billions Print Media Recap Review

Damian Lewis Discusses the Future of Billions

“Axe Has Been Vanquished”

by Jeremy Egner | New York Times | October 3, 2021

This article includes spoilers from Sunday’s Season 5 finale of “Billions.”

One of TV’s last great antiheroes departed Sunday night on Showtime’s “Billions.”

Bobby Axelrod, the proudly venal hedge-fund titan played by Damian Lewis, flew off into the sunset in the Season 5 finale, slipping the grasp of the law and his chief nemesis, Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), one last time on his way to a less punitive future in Switzerland.

While the character’s final scene was somewhat open-ended, with Axe (as he is most commonly known) being welcomed by the Swiss authorities after fleeing America, Lewis confirmed in a recent video interview that he was leaving the show.

Continue reading Damian Lewis Discusses the Future of Billions

Categories Billions Print Media Recap Review

Billions Creators Discuss That Game-Changing Exit in Season 5 Finale

Postmortem 

by Derek Lawrence | Entertainment Weekly | October 3, 2021

“It feels like we’re at the end.”

Sadly, Ben Kim, we are at the end of Bobby Axelrod… at least for now.

So much went down in Sunday’s season 5 finale of Billions that we might need 43 hours to talk about it all, but the biggest news is the departure of original star Damian Lewis. The Emmy winner’s decision to take a step back has long been in the works, and also follows the April death of his wife, actress Helen McCrory.

Continue reading Billions Creators Discuss That Game-Changing Exit in Season 5 Finale

Categories Billions Print Media Recap Review

Billions At a Crossroads: Showrunners Break Down Season 5 Finale

“We Knew We Had to Have All These Good-Byes”

by Cynthia Littleton | Variety | October 3, 2021

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not seen “No Direction Home,” the Season 5 finale of “Billions.”

“Billions” will get a big reset in its upcoming sixth season as the durable Showtime drama shift its prism on the world of billionaires, vulture capitalists and global high finance.

“Billions” co-creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien confirm that Damian Lewis has bowed out after five seasons as the show’s central figure, the meglomaniac hedge fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod. Lewis may come back in the future — you can never say never — but Season 6 will move forward with a new king of what was once Axe’s castle, Mike Prince as played by Corey Stoll. In the narrative of “Billions,” “Herr Axelrod,” as Lewis was greeted in his final scene, will cool his heels in Switzerland for a while. Season 6 will bow Jan. 23, Showtime confirmed Sunday.

Continue reading Billions At a Crossroads: Showrunners Break Down Season 5 Finale