A chance meeting with an award-winning American composer and lyricist in the west end of London has provided the inspiration for the latest production from an Angus musical society.
Director Tommy Baxter has drawn on the conversations he had with Stephen Sondheim’s to put on a show to remember.
He is busy putting members of Kirriemuir Amateur Operatic Society through their finishing touches for their forthcoming production of Sondheim’s multi-award winning musical ‘Into the Woods’, which runs next week.
Prior to returning to Angus, Tommy, 57, worked as general manager at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand in London’s West End, spending 20 years in the city from 1988.
He said: “During that time, West End star Maria Friedman was starring in the musical Chicago and one evening, after the show, she invited me to have dinner with her and a good friend.
“The good friend turned out to be Stephen Sondheim.”
During his career Sondheim has received an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
He wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy and is recognised as one of the best-known artists in the American musical theatre.
Tommy continued: “I was never much of a lover of Sondheim’s work as my musical tastes tended towards the work of Jerry Herman, Kander and Ebb and Lerner and Lowe.
“However, after an evening of talking and listening to the great man, I became a convert. He was very forthcoming and willing to talk about his work.
“When I asked him what he felt were the three most important things of any musical, he replied without a moment’s hesitation ‘the lyrics, the lyrics, the lyrics’.
“This is something I have tried to keep in mind with any show I have directed since then.”
Tommy is delighted that, after all this time, he is getting to direct his first Sondheim musical.
“I am particularly pleased we have managed to keep the casting to within the society, meaning it truly is a local production and hope our audiences will enjoy the show as much as we have rehearsing it”’
‘Into the Woods’ runs from March 19 to 22 March in Kirriemuir Town Hall.
Tickets are available from Colin M Smith, Kirriemuir or online at ticketsource.co.uk/kirriemuirkaos