Jenna Russell and Maria Friedman join line-up for Sondheim 85th Birthday Tribute

Maria Friedman

Maria Friedman joins the line-up for Hey, Old Friends! An 85th Birthday Tribute to Stephen Sondheim at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 25 October

A star-studded West End cast of more than 50 principals, a 40-piece orchestra led by Gareth Valentine and an ensemble of over 50, including a chorus from ArtsEd, will celebrate the songs and shows of Stephen Sondheim in Hey, Old Friends! An 85th Birthday Tribute to Stephen Sondheim at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on Sunday 25 October.

This glittering charity gala will raise funds for The Silver Line and The Stephen Sondheim Society.

Among the line-up are several British stars who have won major awards both in the West End and on Broadway starring in Sondheim shows, including:

Jenna Russell, winner of the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Sunday in the Park With George, She also won the Theatre World Award for Broadway Debut Performance for the same show, and received nominations for the Tony and Drama Desk Awards as Leading Actress in a Musical.

Maria Friedman is a seven-time Olivier Award nominee, winning three times, including Best Actress in a Musical as Fosca in Passion in 1996. She was also nominated as Dot in the UK premiere of Sunday in the Park With George at the National Theatre. The heart of Friedman’s career has been centred around the love and work of her friend Stephen Sondheim and in May 2010 she sang for the composer/lyricist at his 80th birthday celebrations in both New York and Washington.

Daniel Evans won the Best Actor in a Musical Olivier Award in 2001 for Merrily We Roll Along. In 2005 he starred in Sunday in the Park With George – a performance that won him the Best Actor in a Musical Olivier, then Broadway nominations for the Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Best Actor in a Musical awards.

Michael Xavier was nominated for the Best Actor in a Musical Oliver as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. He also recently played John Wilkes Booth in Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Joining them will be a veritable Who’s Who of Musical Theatre, many of them veterans of landmark UK Sondheim productions. They include Millicent Martin, star of the original Side By Side By Sondheim in London and New York (where she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical).

Julia McKenzie won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the 1993 revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She also starred in the original London productions of Follies (1987) and Into the Woods (1990) and received a 1977 Tony Award nomination for her work in the Broadway production of Side By Side By Sondheim.

Others appearing (in alphabetical order) include: Rosemary Ashe, Marianne Benedict, Tracie Bennett, Erin Doherty, Anton Du Beke, Dominic Ferris, Tim Flavin, Tiffany Graves, Simon Green, Haydn Gwynne, Anita Harris, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Marilyn Hill Smith, Damian Humbley, Alison Jiear, Bonnie Langford, Rula Lenska, Jason Manford, James McConnel, Grant McConvey, Robert Meadmore, Martin Milnes, Charlotte Page, Jamie Parker, Nicholas Parsons, Michael Peavoy, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Su Pollard, Joseph Shovelton and Sally Ann Triplett. All artists are subject to availability.

The creative team includes director and choreographer Bill Deamer and musical director Gareth Valentine. The show is devised and produced by Richard Morris and Doug Pinchin in association with The Stephen Sondheim Society.

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