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Lovers of large-scale musicals have been feeling more than usually deprived by the Covid-19 pandemic. In theory, it shouldn’t be impossible to webcast a musical, but it’s technically very difficult—too many people, too much stuff going on—and the only one I’ve reviewed, the Irish Repertory Theatre’s wonderful revival of “Meet Me in St. Louis,” was a scaled-down version in which the actors “phoned in” their performances, taping them from their separate homes, after which they were edited together in the studio. So it is inspiring to report that Virginia’s Signature Theatre, one of the top American regional theaters that specialize in musicals, is webcasting “Simply Sondheim,” a fully-staged 33-song revue directed and choreographed by Matthew Gardiner and performed in the company’s empty 275-seat theater by 12 singers and a 15-player pit orchestra. No, it’s not “Sweeney Todd” on a Broadway-sized stage, but it is fabulously fine in its own right and comes across with irrepressible vitality on a small screen….
The Mint Theater Company continues its webcast series of broadcast-ready archival videos of its shows with Hazel Ellis’s “Women Without Men,” directed by Jenn Thompson and taped at a 2016 off-Broadway performance. It’s another of the Mint’s out-of-nowhere finds, a 1938 all-female ensemble piece by a prodigiously gifted Irish playwright who wrote two well-received dramas, then put down her pen. “Women Without Men,” the second of them, is a group portrait of the contentious teachers of a Protestant girls’ boarding school in Dublin, and as usual with the Mint, it is so stageworthy as to make you wonder why it vanished from sight eight decades ago….
* * *Read the whole thing here.
Norm Lewis sings “Being Alive” in Simply Sondheim: