My friends and regular readers are aware of the cool reception I gave Trevor Nunn’s revival of A Little Night Music that played the Walter Kerr last year. I don’t want to rehash all that again as the production is now closed and we can look forward to a better and brighter future as a result, but the highlight of that production to me was Angela Lansbury’s Tony nominated performance as Madame Armfeldt, a performance that I think was the only Tony-worthy aspect of the entire production (and her across the board rave notices seem to match my sentiments). Her character, Madame Armfeldt, has only one song in the show, “Liaisons,” but it is one of the most memorable of the entire score and one of my personal favorite Sondheim songs.
Ms. Lansbury made a special appearance in London at this weekend’s Olivier Awards to help present Stephen Sondheim with a special lifetime achievement award. Having seen this little news item on Twitter, I made it a point to tune in. The awards ceremony, which until this year had been an industry banquet, made significant changes and was televised for the first time in years (while simultaneously airing on BBC Radio 2, which is how I was able to chime in). There were some kinks in the format, as the early half of the evening relied far too heavily on colorless color commentators interviewing winners in lieu of focusing on the stage, but the performances were all quite interesting to hear, as were the incredibly brief but pitch-perfect acceptance speeches.
The award for Sondheim was saved until the very end of the evening, following the presentations of Best Musical and Best Play. Adrian Lester started the tribute by reprising “Being Alive” from his Olivier Award winning performance of Bobby in the Donmar Company of 1996. Cameron Mackintosh spoke at length about Sondheim’s work as well as their personal relationship before the impresario introduced Lansbury, who received a thunderous standing ovation on her entrance.
It seemed for a few moments that Lansbury was only there to present Sondheim with the award, but following his acceptance speech she delivered a staggering performance of “Liaisons.” Enjoy: