There was Patti LuPone singing the title song from Anyone Can Whistle looking mature and grand. Close to the end Bernadette Peters did a ravishing unaccompanied version of No One is Alone from Into the Woods. From the same show Neil Patrick Harris chose that mad witches patter song about “greens”. Donna Murphy contributed a sombre version of Send in the Clowns, Mandy Patinkin’s bit of Sunday in the Park with George had a vast grassy setting and it was good to see figures from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Jake Gyllenhaal doffing their caps to the master.
There were testaments from Stephen Spielberg (Sondheim was “my most favourite professor”), Jason Alexander (“I personally owe Stephen Sondheim so, so much”) , and Nathan Lane who said the world had all kinds of geniuses but Sondheim was “a nice genius”. It all radiated the spirit of the man who embodied musical New York.
It also showed how Broadway is more than greasepaint and crowds. The knockout moment in the whole 2½ hour show was a split screen version of The Ladies Who Lunch with Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald and a martini-shaking Meryl Streep. The sight of Baranski’s oozing ageless style in this hymn to boozy incorrectness was marvellous as she gazed at the red wine dregs in her glass.
What a giving of the finger to the cruelty to the world.