Putting It Together

Putting-It-TogetherOff-Broadway Cast, 1993 (RCA) 2 Stars (2 / 5) There have been tons of Stephen Sondheim revues, but the big attraction of Putting It Together was unique: Julie Andrews singing Sondheim, live, in a tiny theater. Indeed, her work on this album is an unalloyed pleasure and a master class in theatrical clarity. Andrews is dryly funny in “Sweet Polly Plunkett,” the goofy Victorian parlor song from Sweeney Todd, and her vitriolic “Could I Leave You?”from Follies makes you dream of the Phyllis that never was. In “Getting Married Today” from Company, Andrews gives a tour-de-force performance, singing the parts of both the frenzied, motormouth bride and the soprano who rains down churchly blessings. However, the rest of the cast is a mixed bag. Director Julia McKenzie had contrived a “let’s party!” mise en scene for the show, but the characters’ interactions feel less urbane than brittle. Playwright and sometime-performer Christopher Durang is no great singer, though he does lend an impish, Oscar Levant quality to his songs. Stephen Collins is no great singer, either, but he brings grown-up gravitas to his numbers. Rachel York, as an oddly glamorous maid, is lush and sexy; she has a stratospheric vocal range, and comic timing to spare. Michael Rupert’s throbbing vibrato and tenor ping are characteristically intense here. Adding to the problem that two of the five performers are not trained vocalists, the instrumentation for keyboards, bass, and percussion sounds thin. — Robert Sandla