Whoo buddy! This collection may be pricey, but its worth it.
T. S. Cedars | 02/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I couldn't decide whether I should round down or round up. This set is a great one. The only thing I would have asked for is some extra DVD that was only in this set to make it more than just a bargain for 6 DVDs. As it is, the set is fantastic. However, to start: Follies in Concert isn't the best of DVDs. It has very little replay value for me, but it was really interesting on the first view. And chances are good if you are interested in this set as a whole, then you'll be interested in watching the rehearsal process which is what this DVD is. 3 stars for this disc alone.The exciting inclusions on this set are the 3 original cast recordings. Into the Woods was the first to be released on DVD and it shows. There are no extra features at all. It just plays when you pop it in, and you can access a chapter menu when the show ends (or by pressing menu on the remote). Johanna Gleason is gold. She is reason enough to watch this disc. But she's not the only one; the entire show is great fun. 4 ½ stars to this disc.The gem of Sunday in the Park with George is Bernadette Peters. I wasn't too keen on her in Into the Woods, but she's phenomenal here. This show benefited from multiple viewings. The first time I saw it, I was confused. I still am. Just less so. Mandy Patinkin is good. And I really dig Mr. and Mrs., the southern Americans. Sure they are a bit of low comedy, but I like `em. This DVD offers a commentary (whee!), which is exciting, if a little hard to hear. However, as reviewers of this specific DVD have mentioned, Patinkin dominates the conversation, and as Sondheim said (I think he said it, at least) it sounds a lot like a big back-patting meeting. But that's almost to be expected. It's fun to hear from these people who truly loved the work on which they commented. And they offer some fun insights to the show. 4 ¾ stars.Passion gives us probably the most feature-packed DVD of the set. And it's jolly. The commentary is a lot better. I can hear it, and they don't have any silent moments (the silent moments on Sunday... made me antsy, for what it's worth). The bulk of the commentary seems to be about how the show didn't do too well, but it's still informative. Passion isn't my favorite show of the set, but it's a good production. I need to watch it some more times to solidify my reaction, but from the initial viewing, I wasn't so keen on Fosca. She seemed a bit too devious for me. I didn't sympathize with her nearly as much as I wanted to. 4 stars.Sweeney is probably the brightest gem of this set. It is perhaps my favorite Sondheim musical, and it's the greatest production on video. I am not a member of the Patti LuPone fan club, but I thought she was a great Mrs. Lovett. She was good enough to not make me want Angela Lansbury. George Hearn is fantastic, as is the entire cast. Tim Nolan really creeps me out. And the massive orchestra is really great. You don't get to hear this music played my so many instruments that often, so it's super exciting when you do. This is one DVD that I really would like some commentary on. Ah well. It includes a small "Making of..." featurette. 5 stars.The Sondheim at Carnegie DVD is another sparkly gem of this set. There are a couple of off moments, but overall, the concert is great, giving the owner of this set more exposure to more of Sondheim's canon. Most of the performances are really great. 5 stars. Overall, the set is a great one. If you have a passing fondness for musical theatre, you probably shouldn't invest in this set (really, if you only have a passing fondness for musical theatre, you probably aren't reading this review). If you like musical theatre, you'll dig this set. If you like Sondheim, you'll wet yourself when it comes in the mail. Start pinching your pennies and get this collection."
BROADWAY MAGIC from a BROADWAY LEGEND
Theatre Fanatic | Dallas, TX United States | 12/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stephen Sondheim. A legend of the musical theater. A hero to many. A talent for the ages.Any who have not already fallen in love with this man and his magnificent work are missing out on a cultural and musical splendor. Ever since his first work, writing the lyrics for "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," he has proven to the world that he is indeed the greatest Broadway composer/lyricist of the late 20th century, arguably of all-time.These six works, though far from his complete works which also include, to name a few, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "Company", "A Little Night Music" and the controversial "Assasians."Let me first say that those who tend to loathe musical theater (may God bless your soul), will not find these DVD's very enjoyable. But to those whom condider themselves (begin humming tune from "Oliver!") musical-theater junkies, like me, will savor every moment. "Into the Woods" presents many popular fairy tales, such as Little Red Ridinghood and Cinderella. Only... with very different, and sometimes dark, twists in them. The show is superb. A sure-fire hit ever since it opened on Broadway, it has become Sondheim's most-performed show. The original cast is incredible with Chip Zein, JoannaGleason and Bernadette Peters leading the way. Gleason and Peters are both so magnificent. Two great actresses performing in a show for the ages. Though both deserved the Best Actress Tony, the honour went to Gleason. "Into the Woods" is sure to become a favourite of yours."Sunday in the Park with George" is a harder sell than "Woods". It's plot is more dramatic and the songs are not as memorable. That said the show is still great, with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters amazing performances. Though the show did not win the Best Musical Tony, it did win the Pulitzer Prize, rare for a musical. Not one of my favourites like "Into the Woods", but still great."Follies" was not an outrageously sucessful show when it first opened on Broadway. The book was not very well written, which weighed down Sondheim's MAGNIFICENT songs. This show includes some of his best work, clearly shown in this extermely sucessful concert version of "Follies". The songs are so great, but what most stands out are the mournful "Losing My Mind and the hopeful "Broadway Baby". Both are legendary songs that show why Sondheim is the legend he is today."Passion"-This portion of review currently unavailable."Sweeney Todd" is arguably, though not as popular as some of his other shows, Sondheim's masterpiece. It was a true landmark in musical theater. The score and the book blended so effortlessly, it was hard to tell when the book ended and the score began. It was more opera than traditional musical. This concert version shows its' greatness. It would have been magnificent if Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, who originated the roles, had done it. However, George Hearn and Patti Lupone are wonderful as the title character and Mrs. Lovett. (In fact Hearn's Sweeney is thought by many to be the definitive interpretation of the character.) I have never been a big fan of Lupone's. She is unmistakenably gifted with that magnificent voice, however, and she sings this role beutifully. Kudos to Hearn to, who does the show well. The plot is intricate and would take very long to explain. Just take my word for it. If you like musical theater, you will love this concert of "Sweeney Todd"The highlight of this collection, for me, is the "Celebration at Carnegie Hall". This star-studded event, including Bernadette Peters, Patti Lupone, the late Dorothy Loudon, Liza Minelli, Betty Buckely, Victor Garber and Glenn Close, is one for the ages. Triumphantly displaying the best of Sondheim's work. This is one of the most enjoyable shows I have ever seen. BROADWAY MAGIC!!! The stars beautifully perform the legendary songs of this magnificent man. A MUST HAVE for any collection.The only bad thing about this collection is that it doesn't include two things: the DVD showing the recording of Sondheim's "company"- a fascinating documentary and the movie of Sondheim's "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum" starring Zero Mostel. Both great fun. Other than that, this collection is flawless!Buy it, and dive in to the magical world of Sondheim."
Sondheim: Greatest Theatre Genuis of the 20th Century
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 11/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been in love with the work of Stephen Sondheim since the age of 6, when I first memorized the lyrics to all of the songs from West Side Story. Mr. Sondheim has give us many, many wonderful pieces of theatre, and several of his best pieces are represented here.
Sweeney Todd: considered by many his masterpiece. I prefer the Angela Lansbury / George Hearn casting, but if they chose to star Betty Boop and Donald Duck it couldn't hurt this material. Brilliant.
Follies in Concert: Follies remains my favorite Sondheim musical and, unlike some other reviewers, I thought the ORIGINAL book was brilliant. The later revised version considerably weakened both characters and plot, and the "concert" version is even more woefully incomplete than the original cast album, but thank GOD they saw fit to include, "Too Many Mornings".
Sunday In The Park With George: Pulitzer Prize winning paean to the creative process; I can even forgive the casting of Mandy Patinkin, one of my least favorite actors. The recreation of Seurat's masterpiece during the first act climax still gives me chills.
Passion: the more I watch this achingly beautiful show, the more I think it's one of Sondheim's greatest scores. Subtle, yes, but if you allow it to, it will grow and grow on you until you can't get it out of your mind. This show is for anyone who has ever loved someone that they couldn't have.
Into The Woods: I saw both Broadway productions and had difficulty choosing which was better. I think the original cast, represented here, had a slight edge. Possibly the most "fun" of Sondheim's shows, this take on Grimm's fairy tales is clever, entertaining and highly satisfying.
The Carnegie Hall tribute is also wonderful.
I have long been of the opinion that Sondheim can do no wrong. His lyrics are thrillingly brilliant, witty beyond all expectations, and his music contains depth that other Broadway composers can only dream of. What is most amazing to me is how he can vary styles and musical periods from show to show to show - no two of his musicals are ever alike, which is more than I can say for many other composers. I don't understand those who like him only to a point; I have friends who love Sweeny, Follies and Night Music, but hate Sunday, Passion and Into the Woods. I think he gets better with each succeeding show.
This set is well worth the investment. Hurry and get it, as some of the individual videos are now unavailable, and who knows how long the boxed set will last.
5 stars seem not enough
I. Sondel | Tallahassee, FL United States | 12/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Happy Christmas! Wow. Somebody loves me. What a spectaular gift. Each of these shows is a gem. The concert offers Madeline Kahn singing "Getting Married Today" (I just adored her). The Sondheim/Lapine shows are three of the masters best efforts - "Sunday in the Park," "Into the Woods" and "Passion." Great performances on each of these discs - Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Donna Murphy, Marin Mazzie, Glenn Close, Comedn and Green, Elaine Stritch and Barbara Cook - and many more. Anyone who loves the musical theatre would be thrilled and delighted to have this collection."