Sondheim on a Monday

Sheet music and an iPad
Sheet music and an iPad

In the minutes before the beginning of tonight’s show at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, I grabbed my mobile phone and took a photograph of the stage. The quality of the image from the seventh row, zoomed and cropped, isn’t all that good. But if you look closely you’ll notice on the piano there’s an iPad next to the sheet music. As the show progressed, the pianist went seamlessly between the two, preferring the paper scores for some songs, the electronic version for others. It was the first time I’ve seen it happening, though some of my Twitter buddies assure me it’s becoming more common.

We were there for the annual “World AIDS Day Concert” a fundraiser for the AIDS Council of NSW. The first year there was a tribute to Peter Allen. Last year we attended the tribute to Elton John. And this year’s tribute was to musical theatre legend, Stephen Sondheim who is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. There have been tribute concerts around the world. And in fact, I attended one in Sweden earlier this year. Majorly different was the lack of any Swedish language version of Sondheim songs in this particular tribute.

For me, there were several highlights including: Marika Aubrey doing a version of “Miller’s Son” from “A Little Night Music” (sublime), Lucy Durack doing a version of “No One Is Alone” from “Into The Woods” (gorgeous) and Mitchell Butel doing a terrific version of “Being Alive” from “Company” (powerful). Other performers included Sean Rennie, Laura Mulcahy, Geraldine Turner, David Harris and others. But the biggest highlight of all for me was seeing Jodie Gillies on stage again.

In the 80s, Jodie Gillies was definitely a “star” of Australian musical theatre. She rose to fame in the original production of “Chess” and then went on to play a range of other roles, she toured to many locations – including Wagga, where I was amongst a small group of people who saw her at the Civic Theatre, and then enjoyed a drink with her later at the local wine bar, Number 96 – and she released just one CD, as I understand. And then she kind of disappeared from the stage, concentrating instead on raising a family.

Her one and only CD remains a much played CD in my collection, and in particular she does a wonderful version of Sondheim’s “Another Hundred People”. Tonight she appeared on stage and performed that song. I love that song, and I love her singing it. It was great to see her back.

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