This week, we celebrated the birthdays of both Andrew Lloyd Webber and the late Stephen Sondheim, both of whom were born on the same day. While these two composers for the stage have many incredible shows we’ve enjoyed over the years, there are a few which stand out, and those are the shows I’m listening to today.
Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained. Many have attempted to do so, starting with the original story written by French novelist Gaston Leroux in 1909. Lon Chaney and Claude Raines both portrayed the Phantom on the Silver Screen, but it’s Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical adaptation which is the definitive telling of the tale. While most may prefer the original London cast recording featuring Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine, I enjoy the 2011 staged performance at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating the musical’s 25th anniversary. Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo are spectacular in the lead roles, and the overall performance is darker and more serious to me than the original, plus there are no edits to the story or the music as this is a live concert recording.
I put a poll up on Twitter to see which version of Santa Clara Vanguard’s Phantom of the Opera I should watch. The results were pretty definitive.
Once I'm finished listening to Phantom of the Opera, which @scvanguard rendition do I listen to afterwards?
— Kevin Gamin (@kevingamin) March 24, 2023
So, without further ado, here’s the 1989 Santa Clara Vanguard!
Moving over to Sondheim, one of my favorites of his is Into The Woods from 1987. The combination of various fairy tales to create a new story with incredible music and led to multiple Tony awards and a live action film from Disney.
I don’t know how I missed this, but the Blue Devils posted their entire 2015 Finals performance of Ink, including music from Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd, on their YouTube channel. It even features the K-Pop section which was removed from the official CD and Blu-Ray releases that year!