When Side by Side by Sondheim debuted in 1977 I ‘ve seen the show multiple times. This current incarnation at the Odyssey is a badly needed welcome return to the elegant, intelligent, tuneful and brilliant music and lyrics of Mr. Sondheim. The cast almost makes it seem like you are hearing these songs for the first time. The choreography is refreshingly exuberant. The concept of the canon of work through 1976 is kept. Some of the narration has been updated to reflect political correctness. It is noted by the narrator that when we witness the Pacific Overture songs that we imagine we aren’t seeing two white women and a white dude. I noticed a few changes with lyrics. In “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” the original rhyme was:
“I could understand a person
If it’s not a person’s bag
I could understand a person
If a person was a fag”
They changed “fag” to “drag”. Not sure if this is an official change that Sondheim sanctioned.
The standout was “Could I Leave You?” from Follies sung by Chris Kerrigan. Originally sung by Alexis Smith this gender switch takes the song into the stratosphere. And for bitingly hysterical songs you won’t find better versions of “Can That Boy Foxtrot”, “I Never Do Anything Twice” and “The Boy From” from this stellar group. Rachel McLaughlan nails “I’m Still Here”, ”Getting Married Today” and shedding real tears during “Send in the Clown”. Irresistible theater.
This clip is from the original show.