When you’re Stephen Sondheim, you earn a standing ovation before you say a word — or play a note.
So, naturally, that’s what an enthusiastic crowd gave the Broadway legend when he stepped out on stage Monday night at New York City’s Town Hall, where an audience of theater fans and stars watched the maestro sit behind a piano to play, and sing, “Good Thing Going,” from his 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along.
That mesmerizing moment was just (just!) one highlight from fellow theater heavyweight Jason Robert Brown’s benefit concert, which marked the 50th performance in the composer’s SubCulture residency series and supported Brady, an anti-gun-violence organization. (It’s the same group Brown worked with for his one-night-only Last Five Years performance three years ago.)
Sondheim didn’t come out on stage until an hour into the event, which also featured appearances from Broadway stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Katrina Lenk, Shoshana Bean, Rob McClure, and Joshua Henry. The group sang selections from the Sondheim songbook, as well as selections from Brown’s own catalog. (Miranda, by his own admission, nerded out from his seat in the audience in addition to taking part on stage — as happy a witness as he was a participant.)
Lenk, a Tony winner for The Band’s Visit, slipped into the role of the Witch to sing “Last Midnight,” from Into the Woods, before joining Henry to sing “Move On,” from Sunday in the Park With George. (She also sang a song from an unfinished musical Brown is working on called The Connector.) And when she took the stage for once more near the end of the evening, it was with both Brown and Sondheim on piano as she sang “Not While I’m Around,” from Sweeney Todd.
Miranda helped Brown get the crowd going earlier in the show, as the two paired up for Merrily’s “Franklin Shepard Inc.” McClure, currently starring in Beelejuice, took the stage to sing “I Love Betsy,” from Honeymoon in Vegas — a song that Brown recalled Sondheim saying was a favorite of his. (“I thought, ‘That’s the one?!’” he recalled.) And Bean joined Brown for a romantic rendition of “The Next Ten Minutes,” from his hit musical The Last Five Years.
The entire event, directed by Daisy Prince, featured a 15-piece orchestra in addition to its two very famous piano men — and, as Brown relayed at the end of the show, it raised $300,000 for the cause the evening supported.
Take a look at some more photos from the event below.