Drawing: Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends tribute concert 3 May 2022

Drawing of Stephen Sondheim signed by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Maria Friedman, Dame Judy Dench, Petula Clark, Julia McKenzie, Michael Ball, Bernadette Peters, Sian Philips, Bonnie Langford, Janie Dee, Gary Wilmot, Clive Rowe, Charlie Stemp, Michael Xavier, Jon Robyns, Damien Lewis, Rob Brydon, Haydn Gwynn and Julian Ovenden, from the Stephen Sonheim Old Friends Tribute Concert, London

British producer and theatre impresario, Sir Cameron Mackintosh invited many of the late Stephen Sondheim’s old friends to join him in celebrating the great composer’s extraordinary talents and legacy at the West End theatre named after him. Considered one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century musical theatre, Stephen passed away at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut last November at the age of 91, before he was able to attend the official naming ceremony of the Shaftesbury Avenue theatre.

The tribute concert STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S OLD FRIENDS (from a number in 1981’s MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG) on 3 May, directed by Maria Friedman was also simulcast at the nearby Prince Edward Theatre, due to ticket demand. All proceeds went to the Stephen Sondheim Foundation. In his five star review for the Guardian, Mark Lawson wrote, “A glorious all-star memorial service… Stephen Sondheim was so vast a talent that London required two theatres to remember him… each of the (41) tunes a eulogy.”

While I wasn’t unable to get (or indeed fit) every artist, I did manage 19 from the glittering line-up, who respectfully signed around the pencil portrait of the great man; Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Maria Friedman, Dame Judy Dench, Petula Clark, Julia McKenzie, Michael Ball, Bernadette Peters, Sian Philips, Bonnie Langford, Janie Dee, Gary Wilmot, Clive Rowe, Charlie Stemp, Michael Xavier, Jon Robyns, Damien Lewis, Rob Brydon, Haydn Gwynn and Julian Ovenden.

Drawing: Bonnie Langford as The Lady of the Lake in Monty Python’s Spamalot

bonnie langford

I kept meaning to catch up with musical theatre icon Bonnie Langford and finally I did so over the weekend after a matinée performance of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at London’s Savoy Theatre.

Bonnie plays the glamorous divorcée Muriel Enbanks and signed this sketch of her as the Lady of the Lake from Spamalot.

Ever since winning the talent show Opportunity Knocks as a six year old and taking to the stage a year later in Gone With The Wind, Bonnie has been a crowd favourite. She has played all the big shows – Cats, Me and My Girl and the role of Roxy Hart in Chicago on both the West End and Broadway stages.

She began playing The Lady of the Lake in the UK tour in early 2012 before a three month run at the Harold Pinter Theatre (formerly The Comedy Theatre) later in 2012, then two stints at the Playhouse Theatre in May-November 2013 and February-March 2014.