Batavia players return to the boards with Sondheim tribute | Entertainment

BATAVIA — Kathy White, who is directing the upcoming Batavia Players production, was preparing for the show he had originally planned when news broke last November that Stephen Sondheim had passed away.

Sondheim, an American composer, had revolutionized the way musicals were made in shows such as “West Side Story”, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “Into the Woods”.

White decided it would be appropriate to put on a program featuring only his music.

“He had a different writing style and did shows that weren’t the traditional type of musical at the time,” said White, who is leading next weekend’s production of “Back on the Boards. Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim”.

Sondheim wrote his first musical – which wasn’t performed until 50 years later – called “Saturday Night” in 1954. Then Leonard Bernstein asked him to write the lyrics for “West Side Story” in 1957. Then, Jule Styne asked him to write the lyrics. for “Gypsy” in 1959. After that he wrote all of his own lyrics and music for his shows except for “Do I Hear a Waltz?” in 1964.

The shows Sondheim wrote during his career were: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in 1962, “Anyone Can Whistle” in 1964, “Evening Primrose” in 1966, “Company” in 1970, “Follies” in 1971, “A Little Night Music” in 1973, “The Frogs” in 1974, “Pacific Overtures” in 1976, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in 1979, “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981, “Sunday in the Park with George” in 1984, “Into the Woods” in 1987, “Assassins” in 1990, “Passion” in 1994 and “Road Show” in 2008. He won seven Tony Awards.

He also wrote other stuff along the way, winning the 1990 Academy Award for Best Original Song for Dick Tracy’s “Sooner or Later.”

“Back on the Boards Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim” will feature over 20 songs sung by 18 people.

Beth Ann Hooker sings the solo “The Ladies who Lunch” from “Company” and “I’m Still Here” from “Follies” with Lucine Kauffman and Jane Burk.

Hooker said she decided to get back on stage after not doing anything with The Batavia Players for years. She has been performing with the theater since 1973. Hooker said she enjoys being with everyone she works with on stage.

Jocelyn Colburn, who stars in “Putting it Together”, has been with Batavia Players for 13 years.

“Reviews like this are super fun just because it’s so together and everyone has their little moment to shine,” she said.

Kristin Gelia sings “Can I Leave You?” and is part of the trio in “Old Friends”. She was invited by White to be part of the ensemble.

“I really think Kathy did a wonderful job of really thinking about the pieces she selected for everyone,” she said. “She also collaborated with us on what we would like to do as well.”

Gelia has been part of the Batavia Players since 2016 and comes from Buffalo to participate. She said she liked the Batavia Players people, saying they were kind and really caring.

“Back on Stage Again: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Downtown Batavia, 102 Main St., Batavia. The entrance is the purple door of Family Dental, 6 Batavia City Centre.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. are available online at

The Batavia players’ season at a glance

BATAVIA – This year the Batavia Players season opened with its annual Shakespeare in Springtime production. This year it was “Love’s Labour’s Lost”. A total of seven shows are scheduled, followed by a tribute to Stephen Sondheim. A look at the schedule:

not MAY 6-8: “Back on stage: a tribute to Stephen Sondheim”.

not MAY 13-15: “The Importance Of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde is a wacky comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictional characters to escape heavy social obligations.

not JULY 22-23: “Peter Pan Jr.” is a summer drama camp production that follows the classic story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

not August 12-14: “Godspell,” a Summer Youth Program production, is a musical about the Gospel of Matthew. Pat Burk, president of Batavia Players, said it was their most performed musical, but don’t expect a repeat production. “I design the production to be very unique and very different from what people have seen in the past,” Burk said.

not OCT. 14-16: Uncle Vanya is Anton Chekhov’s foray into the life of an elderly professor and his glamorous and much younger second wife, Yelena. The play begins when a sudden change of heart becomes apparent and the characters have to live with its outcome.

not DEC. 1, 3-4, and 9-11: Meredith Wilson’s “Miracle on 34th Street The Musical” finds the holidays fast approaching and New Yorkers looking to the wonders, awe, and magic of the season. A little girl is touched by the Santa Claus she met at her mother’s store and sets off to prove that the true meaning of Christmas is in the hearts and minds of Christmas believers.

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