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This review is from: Putting It Together: A Musical Review [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
It may be unfair to make comparisons, but I am afraid they are unavoidable in this case.This record of the Sondheim "review" generally lacks the intimacy and likeability of the previous (and more modest) "Side by Side by Sondheim" which originated in Britain. I am not sure how "Putting it Together" would strike someone coming to Sondheim's songs for the first time, as the compilers seem to have gone to great lengths to include as much unfamiliar material (especially in the first half) as possible. An example being the opening "Instructions to the Audience" from the musical version of Aristophanes' "The Frogs". But almost certainly this DVD will be bought by Sondheim aficionados, and the problem here is twofold:firstly Sondheim's songs are not great show tunes a la Jerry Herman,- they are usually carefully woven into the substance of the work, and gain nothing by being summarily yanked out of context: and secondly the appearance of a familiar song is likely only to remind the viewer of when he heard the number done better - usually in the original production of the particular show.
The performers themselves are talented enough, though not particularly cohesive as a team.Carol Burnett has most of the big showpieces "The Ladies who Lunch" and "Not Getting Married" (which she takes at a much slower tempo than usual) from "Company", and "Every Day a Little Death" from "A Little Night Music". George Hearn, the other big Broadway star, delivers his less showy numbers convincingly. Ruthie Henshall goes to town with her big number "More", and John Barrowman has both a pleasing personality and a good voice. There is a rather half-hearted attempt at providing a thread of continuity, and the gimmick of the cast playing their own instruments only adds anything to one number ("Side by Side"), elsewhere it is a distraction. The set too (by Bob Crowley) tends to detract from rather than enhance the production. Inevitably, too, one is left disappointed at the omission of a favourite number - in my case "Another Hundred People just got off the Train" from "Company" and "Agony" from "Into the Woods". Ah well!