In the divine pantheon of musical theater, a theistic family flush with all manner of minor deities, there is no more major a god than Stephen Sondheim. The man behind the music (or lyrics) of such pop-culture landmarks as Sunday in the Park with George, Gypsy and Sweeney Todd may not be the Alpha and Omega of the Broadway stage, but he’s about as close as you’ll find without exhuming either Rodgers or Hammerstein, and on March 4 at 7:30 p.m., he’s coming to the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.
Sondheim’s visit will represent the first half of what the theater calls its Broadway Luminaries series, and it should give devotees a rare sliver of insight into some of the great theatrical productions of the last half century. Though we have no trouble imagining a throng of adoring fans content simply to bask in the nearly 80-year-old master’s silent shadow, Sondheim will in fact be engaged in conversation by Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Gary Griffin, who’s directed productions of a number of Sondheim shows over the years, including A Little Night Music and Pacific Overtures. The conversation is billed as “unscripted,” but it’s expected to cover a wide range of topics, from his own most major hits and collaborations to American musical theater generally. What’s more, after his discussion with Griffin, Sondheim is slated to hold a Q&A session with the audience — a rare opportunity, and about as close as you’re going to come in real life to talking to Tony from West Side Story.
The second half of the Harris’ 2010 Broadway Luminaries series features North Shore native Christine Ebersole, who’ll be singing to the accompaniment of pianist John Oddo on March 25 at 7:30 p.m. As of this posting, tickets for both events (which range from $35-$65 for Sondheim and $45-$75 for Ebersole) are still available.