Highly Recommended Cabaret: LARRY OWENS’ SONDHEIMIA (Pasadena Playhouse)

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by Tony Frankel on February 27, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-Los Angeles


In this curated concert, musical theater actor Larry Owens explores time, love, and ambition through the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, with music director Josh Kight on piano. Words are the name of the game with Owens’ spectacular Sondheimia, which recently played Carnegie Hall. The preternaturally gifted performer — and astounding interpreter of all things Sondheim — will stun you as he tears through some 23 of the wordy writer-composer’s numbers. Owens never distorts the words’ intended meaning but makes the tunes fresh nonetheless: he brings a liveliness both impressive and absolutely coherent with “The Miller’s Son” from A Little Night Music, the full production of which will be staged at Pasadena Playhouse in April. None of his choices — in that, or any other song — feels strained or intentionally against the grain.

The two-night gig, presented by Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play), plays February 27 and March 6, 2023, on the Playhouse Mainstage, where the transcendent production of Sunday in the Park with George is wowing audiences eight times a week. Know also that Owens is the winner of both a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor and a Lucille Lortel Award for starring as the alter ego of writer/composer/lyricist Michael R. Jackson in the Pulitzer prize-winning musical A Strange Loop at Playwrights Horizons.

Here’s a podcast episode of On the Rocks recorded this week interviewing Owens. Hear about his experience working on A Strange Loop, his role on Abbot Elementary, and his current show Sondheimia. Hear about his early beginnings in theatre, the hustle of moving to New York, the evolution of musical theatre, and is there such a thing as being too woke in theatre? With guest co-host performer and podcaster Robert Bannon from the Roundtable Podcast with host Alexander Rodriguez, Owens’ interview begins at about 14 minutes in.

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