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Playhouse Merced surprising audiences with Sondheim tribute


Playhouse Merced finally premiered its anticipated production of “Sondheim On Sondheim” last weekend, and there is only one weekend left, so you should definitely grab tickets while you still can.

Shows are scheduled for Feb. 9 to Feb. 11, starting at 7:30 p.m., and tickets can be bought in person at the Box Office, 452 W. Main St.; or online at

Sondheim On Sondheim is a musical revue that pays tribute to the legendary songwriter and composer Steven Sondheim, whose work has had a monumental impact on not only theater, but popular culture as a whole.

For those who are not familiar with his work, it includes: West Side Story, Sweeny Todd, Into the Woods, Assassins, and more. The play makes full use of Sondheim’s catalog (it even includes some things not widely released) and touches on a long list of his many projects and gives you a fun look into many of the stories and circumstances that surround them through various clips of interviews from the icon himself.

The musical, created by James Lapine, is directed by Playhouse veteran G.B. Blackmon III alongside lifelong musician Dennis Browm as musical director.

This local production boasts a cast of powerful performers and a full band joining them on stage for a night to remember in honor of the late cultural icon.

“I think this show will bring a new light to one theatres  most lauded legends,” says Jeshamon Volkerts, one of the performers. “To oddly see him at his most human and casual.  Plus the unique rewrites of some of his most iconic pieces, and teases of his less public songs are quite a treat.”

Vocalists include: Jeshamon Volkerts, Joanne Winfrey, Chris Espinoza, Tia Kamar, Katy Uyeno, Samantha Strobel, Alyssa McCabe, Rachel Battisti, Zakarias Dimpel-Alvarez, Emily McSwain, Madelyn Lara, Tonatiuh Newbold, Mateo Deangelo, and Cheney Mcgee.

Musicians include: Dennis Brown as the Conductor/Keyboard, Zakarias Dimpel-Alvarez on the Synthesizer, B.J. Humpal on the Horn, Journey Poe on the Tenor Saxaphone, Jennifer Sturgeon on the Clarinet, Sandra Stocking on the Piccolo/Flue/Clarinet/Alto Saxaphone, Ben Serpa on the Bass, Tim Rohrer on the Cello, and Caitlin Hunsuck Serpa on the Violin.

“This show is a blast and a delight for the ears,” says vocalist Emily McSwain. “We’re presenting a show that shows off some of the best pieces by this icon of Broadway and even some pieces that never made it past the cutting room floor. It’s going to be a fun event to just relax and enjoy some great music. What a great way to get back into the theatre at the beginning of the year.”

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