AOP, NWACC ‘put it together’ for Sondheim musical revue March 16

AOP, NWACC ‘put it together’ for Sondheim musical revue March 16

Although the performance March 16 will be “primarily focusing on the musical numbers,” there is something of a storyline within “Putting It Together,” Stephen Sondheim’s own revue of Stephen Sondheim songs.

Five people — in this case, Bryan Guarino, Rachel Mills, Edward Mountz, Jack Hodge and Madison Tatum — find themselves thrown together at a Manhattan penthouse party. Through the magic of imagination, says a press release from Arts One Presents, the apartment transforms into various theatrical settings, including an abandoned theater, an island outside of Paris and the enchanted woods of a fairy tale.

Director Justin Stewart — who was recently named production manager for AOP — says there is a “noticeable shared interest in Stephen Sondheim’s music within the theater community,” and “recognizing a unique opportunity, we decided to showcase Sondheim’s work in a distinctive manner.”

The offstage storyline is that the revue is part of a partnership being forged between AOP and the theater program at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. It’s an “endeavor [designed to] not only bring AOP magic to campus, but also give NWACC students a chance to network for continuing work during the summer,” says Stephanie Freeman, NWACC’s theater program coordinator.

“I’m definitely in for as many projects as they’d like to do,” she adds of the budding relationship with AOP. “I followed my students to the AOP ‘Sweeney Todd’ auditions [last May], and I was so impressed with the entire process. From the production team’s attention to detail to the amazing cast, it was just a wonderful summer running around with all of the Sweeneys!”

The result, says Freeman, is that she was asked to be an AOP board member last fall, facilitating a relationship between NWACC and the theater company.

“I appreciate the support my students are receiving by having this amazing revue right in our own back yard,” Freeman says. And “I am so glad that Justin Stewart, our fearless director, is at the helm. He sees the potential in championing performing arts here at NWACC.”

“I began my journey in college as an opera singer, igniting a passion for acting,” Stewart says. “My curiosity expanded to various theater genres, leading me to explore musical theater and eventually plays. This exploration opened doors to diverse film projects, marking a significant chapter in my acting career. Alongside my commitments to the Northwest Arkansas Council and engaging in film and voice-over work, this has become my full-time pursuit.”

Stewart also happens to be an NWACC alumnus and is pleased that the collaboration “will allow NWACC theater students, as well as community performers, to get hands-on experience on stage and behind the scenes.”

Edward Mountz and Jack Hodge are both NWACC students, and one of Freeman’s stage management students, Nikki Phillips, “has chosen this production for her stage management project,” Freeman says. “She’ll be focusing on certain aspects of the production — creating an example prompt book and helping to run the show.”

Written in collaboration with Julia McKenzie, the revue debuted in 1992 and returned to Broadway in 1999. Named after a song in “Sunday in the Park With George,” it includes classic Sondheim songs from “Sweeney Todd,” “Follies,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and more.

Kailey Erwin, also a veteran of Northwest Arkansas theater, is the musical director. With the show just cast on Feb. 16, she says, the performers have been “working extremely hard on their own to make sure everything is where they want it to be. Several of these songs were already familiar to the singers, which has definitely been helpful, but they are the ones putting in the work!”



‘Putting It Together’”

A Sondheim Revue

WHEN — 7 p.m. March 16

WHERE — Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies (Walmart Auditorium) at NWACC

COST — $10-$20


Categories: Music