As flaming as it sounds, sometimes I feel so lucky to be living in New York at a time when so many of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musicals are getting starry revivals on Broadway. Like one of those sad teens in Camp, I can still remember wearing out my Sondheim CDs as an overweight kid with limited talents — OK, there might’ve been some cassette tapes involved — as I fantasized about one day playing Jack in Into the Woods and dreamed of dining at Sardi’s with Steve, any show queen’s ultimate sugar daddy. My acting aspirations may've been follies, but my passion for Sondheim has never been assassinated. (See what I did there?)
A revival of A Little Night Music, Sondheim’s sentimental 1973 musical set in early-20th-century Sweden, was one of only six shows worthy of Seat Filler attention during an otherwise desolate post-holiday period. Though not as revolutionary as recent revivals of Company or Sweeney Todd, Trevor Nunn’s shadowy, spartan staging at the Walter Kerr Theatre is haunting. Based on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, the sophisticated tuner celebrates a web of sexual dalliances during a weekend in the country, including a rekindled romance between Desiree, an aging actress, and a middle-aged lawyer married to a cock-teasing 18-year-old virgin. Star Catherine Zeta-Jones looks, sounds, and emotes beautifully as Desiree, especially as tears fill her eyes during “Send in the Clowns.” And as her prickly wheelchair-bound mother, 84-year-old legend Angela Lansbury often remembers her lines.
After touring last year with Mommy Queerest, outrageous lesbian comedian Judy Gold returns to Manhattan with her latest one-woman show, Jewdy! Jewdy! Jewdy! Monday nights through January 25 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. The 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother star is still kvetching about her martyred Jewish mom and the not-always-joys of raising two straight sons with her crazy ex-girlfriend and jealous new girlfriend, but Gold doesn’t shy away from serious politics. “I’ll talk about gay marriage anywhere I go,” she says before singing an original song about the many rights denied gay couples — which isn’t exactly the smoothest way to cap off an evening of comedy. She also uses a slide projector to show off family photos, including a great one of her son at an anti-Proposition 8 rally outside a Mormon church holding up a sign that reads, “My two mommies can beat up your 14 wives!”