Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends, Cameron Mackintosh's tribute concert to late musical theatre trailblazer Stephen Sondheim that was presented May 3, 2022, at London's Sondheim Theatre, is heading to the West End for a longer run.
The limited engagement, also produced by Mackintosh, will play the Gielgud Theatre September 16, 2023-January 6, 2024. Three-time Tony honoree Bernadette Peters will again star, marking her West End debut. Peters will be joined by Tony winner Lea Salonga as well as many who were part of the May concert, including Christine Allado, Janie Dee, Bonnie Langford, and Jeremy Secomb. The production will also feature Beatrice Penny-Touré, Joanna Riding, and Jac Yarrow, with additional casting to be announced.
Directed by Matthew Bourne, side by side with Julia McKenzie, the production also features choreography by Stephen Mear, conducting by Alfonso Casado Trigo, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker, musical arrangements by Stephen Metcalfe, set design by Matt Kinley, projection design by George Reeve, lighting design by Warren Letton, and sound design by Mick Potter.
Mackintosh said in a statement, “Old Friends began its journey to the West End in a conversation I had with Steve during our enforced pandemic isolation—‘It’s time we did a third show’ said Steve, and complete the trilogy that started with Side by Side by Sondheim in the 1970s, followed by Putting It Together in the ‘90s. We commenced work on it but as theatres and shows started to reopen post Covid, we got distracted and then suddenly on Thanksgiving just over a year ago Steve sadly left us, leaving his extraordinary legacy of work to live on forever.
"Over Christmas ‘21 I put together all our thoughts, and inspired by the shows I had worked on with him and Julia McKenzie, and the desire to showcase his greatest music as well as his great lyrics, the material of Old Friends miraculously fell onto the page pretty much as it is. Thanks to a phenomenal Gala cast, the show proved to be the great celebration we all wanted for our friend and inspiration—performed in the Sondheim Theatre, which I had rebuilt and renamed in his honor. The response to both the show and the subsequent television version recently screened by the BBC over the New Year has been quite overwhelming, so I am thrilled that Broadway legend, Bernadette Peters, one of my favorite old friends, is going to reprise her brilliant performance in what is astonishingly going to be her British stage debut—to be joined by Lea Salonga, who of course became my youngest old friend, when she created a sensation at the age of 17, starring in the original Miss Saigon– this will be her first West End run since Les Misérables 27 years ago. Bernadette and Lea head a stellar cast of co-stars, many of whom also appeared in last year’s unforgettable Gala. Steve was always a 'Broadway Baby' at heart, so I’m delighted that I have been able to put together one last great hurrah for my old friend, containing many of the greatest songs ever written for the musical theatre, in one ‘great big Broadway show’—just as he wanted.”
Tickets will go on sale February 22 to priority bookers with general on sale beginning February 11.