Tag Archives: Stephen Sondheim


“My beautiful city is set on rock between two flowing paths of water that run to the sea. My city is tall and jagged—with gold-slated towers… My city chokes on its breath, and sparkles with its false lights—and sleeps restlessly at night. My city is a lone man walking at night down an empty street watching his shadow grow longer as he passes the last lamp post, seeing no comfort in the blank, dark windows, and hearing his footsteps echo against the building and fade away.” — Jerome Robbins

Admired, disparaged, beloved, feared, Jerome Robbins (1918–1998) was one of the great choreographers of the twentieth century. Arthur Laurents told Robbins he was “a shit” for naming names as a “friendly witness” for HUAC. (Robbins feared being exposed as bisexual.) Yet Laurents continued to collaborate with him, most notably on West Side Story. (Stephen Sondheim, the show’s lyricist, said that Robbins was one of the only geniuses he’d ever worked with.)

Through his work with the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, and on Broadway—On the Town, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof, to name just three shows among dozens—Robbins was indelibly associated with his home base and muse: Manhattan.

A new exhibition curated by Julia Foulkes marks Robbins’ centenary and his lifelong celebration of the city, and includes dance films and videos, diaries, paintings, story scenarios, press clippings, and extensive photographic documentation.


Through March 30.

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City.

From top: Sharks and Jets dance in West Side Story, on tour in Europe in the early 2000s; the original Fancy Free cast—Muriel Bentley, Janet Reed, Harold Lang, John Kriza, and Jerome Robbins—in Times Square in 1958, with photographer Gordon Parks leaning over his tripod, courtesy the Jerome Robbins Dance Division/The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Mikhail Baryshnikov in the New York City Ballet production of The Four Seasons (1979), choreographed by Robbins; Antoinette Sibley rehearses Afternoon of a Faun with the choreographer, photograph by Michael Childers, courtesy Dance Magazine; Damian Woetzel and Tiler Peck dance Robbins at Kennedy Center, 2017; Carmen de Lavallade, Robbins, and Yves Saint Laurent—photograph by Whiteside—and Robbins in 1944, both courtesy Dance Magazine.


FOLLIES—a psychological, philosophical memory play with showstoppers (“Broadway Baby,” “Who’s That Woman,” “Losing My Mind,” and the trouper’s biographical tour de force “I’m Still Here”)—is Sondheim at zenith, brilliantly staged in its current London revival by director Dominic Cooke, and available to Los Angeles audiences via a series of National Theatre Live screenings presented at UCLA by L.A. Theatre Works.

Set in a half-destroyed Broadway theater, the original producer and co-director Hal Prince was inspired by a photograph of Gloria Swanson—dressed to the nines—standing amid the wreckage of New York’s Roxy.

The show takes place during an onstage, thirty-year reunion party of former chorus girls, where they are joined by the ghosts of their younger selves—a musical confluence of the past and the present, and a brilliant demonstration of how illusion unchecked feeds regret.

“[FOLLIES] does not condemn the past… it condemns our tendency to hide behind a false depiction of the past rather than let ourselves be confronted by the reality of the future.” — Bert Fink*

Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee—wonderful interpreters of Sondheim’s material—stand out as once-best friends Sally and Phyllis.



Sunday, December 17, at 3 pm.

Saturday, January 13, at 3 pm.

Sunday, January 21, at 3 pm.

JAMES BRIDGES THEATER, UCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles.




FOLLIES, through January 3.

OLIVIER THEATRE, National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London.


*Bert Fink—program notes for the 1985 New York Philharmonic FOLLIES concert at Avery Fisher (now Geffen) Hall—in Ted Chapin, Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies (New York: Knopf, 2003)

From top: original 1971 Broadway poster by Donald E. Byrd, reflects the Art Deco revival of the time; scenes from the 2017 National Theatre production of Follies, by Stephen Sondheim, including Imelda Staunton as Sally, sitting on a stoop.

Image result for follies poster david byrd


04004 Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer in FOLLIES at the National Theatre (c) Johan Persson