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Stephen Sondheim's "Road Show" Earns Four Stars from the Guardian, Independent, Evening Standard: "Vintage Sondheim"

Stephen Sondheim "Road Show" [cover]

Stephen Sondheim's latest musical, Road Show, received its European premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London last night, directed and designed by Tony Award winner John Doyle, who also directed the original production of Road Show at New York's Public Theater in 2008. The new production gets great reviews from the UK press, earning four stars across the board from The Guardian, The Independent, and the Evening Standard.

Road Show reunites Sondheim (music, lyrics) and John Weidman (book), the creative team behind 2003's Bounce, and re-examines its tale of the real-life Mizner brothers, Addison and Wilson, whose quest for the American dream turns into a test of morality and judgment that changes their lives in unexpected ways.

"Packing a lot into a short space, it is lyrically witty, musically rich and has the sardonic satirical appeal of the Sondheim-Weidman Assassins," says the Guardian's Michael Billington in his four-star review. It "has pace, energy and drive and is full of vintage Sondheim." This very American tale, Billington concludes, "is an intimate epic that, while giving enormous pleasure, aspires to be nothing less than a state-of-the-nation musical."

Read the review at guardian.co.uk.

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The Independent's Paul Taylor in his four-star review says the production is "brilliantly staged by John Doyle" and "has terrific drive, bite and buoyancy." While Sondheim has told the story of the Mizners in earlier iterations, including Bounce, this "European baptism in new, improved form at the Menier," Tayor concludes, "offers cause for ample festivity round the font." Read the review at independent.co.uk.

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The Evening Standard's Henry Hitchings says the new production is "directed in spritely fashion" by Doyle and "performed with sparkle," with "heady chemistry between the leads." He credits Weidman's book with being able "to savour the comic possibilities of 20th-century American history while also exposing the darkness of opportunism." Read the review at thisislondon.co.uk.

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The Stage reviewer Mark Shenton asserts that Road Show's "rich, varied and tuneful score is as audacious and complex as any Sondheim has ever written." He credits Doyle for bringing "a seamless fluidity" to the production and concludes: "It’s a show that Sondheim fans will want to collect, but it has an urgent, fervent flavour that should collect yet more admirers, too, for the pre-eminent theatrical composer of our time." Read the review at thestage.co.uk.

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For more on the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Road Show, go to menierchocolatefactory.com. To pick up a copy of the original cast recordings of Road Show and Bounce and any of the recordings in the Stephen Sondheim Nonesuch catalog, head to the Nonesuch Store, where orders include high-quality, 320 kbps MP3s of the album at checkout.

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