The Daily Distraction: Julie Andrews, Dorothy Loudon, and More Present a Sondheim Tribute

Video   The Daily Distraction: Julie Andrews, Dorothy Loudon, and More Present a Sondheim Tribute
 
The medley at the 1984 Tony Awards offers something familiar, yet something very, very peculiar.

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Day 16: "Bet You Didn't Know What You Had When You Wrote This One, Steve!"

On this day in 1993, Julie Andrews led the company of the revue Putting It Together, opening April 1 at Manhattan Theatre Club. But it wasn't her first ensemble celebration of Stephen Sondheim; Andrews took part in a delightfully chaotic tribute to the composer at the 1984 Tony Awards.

The presentation begins with Company's "Another Hundred People," setting the tone for the next 12 minutes: buckle up, because people are coming and going, and they're not going to wait for you to catch up. Larry Kert croons from West Side Story, but before you fully know what's happening, Anita Morris takes over, thrusting to "You Gotta Get a Gimmick."

There's a lot to take in. The random high note at the end of the "Being Alive"/"Company" mashup. Bringing up Anyone Can Whistle and Merrily We Roll Along tanking (reminder: this is a tribute). The sudden costume changes for A Little Night Music.

And then there's Dorothy Loudon.

The Sondheim favorite delivers a rendition of "Broadway Baby" from Follies that includes announcing each key change (by, naturally, screaming "key change!") and shouting at Sondheim himself mid-song. It's loud. It's unpredictable. It's glorious. Remarkably, Andrews is able to shift the medley seamlessly into the decidedly more somber "Send in the Clowns."

Some extra context: this year's ceremony marked a match between Sondheim and Jerry Herman—the cerebral and the toe-tapping—as Sunday in the Park With George and La Cage aux Folles—were both up for Best Musical. The latter came out on top in the category, as well as in Best Original Score. When he accepted his award, Herman noted, "There’s been a rumor around that the simple, hummable show tune is no longer welcome on Broadway. Well, it’s alive and well at the Palace Theatre."

Still, Sondheim gets his due respect in this number, and the ceremony closed with a similar tribute to Herman, which ended with Bernadette Peters—nominated that year for Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George—returning to Herman's Mack and Mabel for a gorgeous performance of "Time Heals Everything"

And yes, Loudon found a way to shout at him during that one, too.

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