"A Medley of Sondheim" at Romania's International Festival for Musical Performing Arts

The National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian”


“A Medley of Sondheim“ — a special concert tribute performance

Featuring Broadway star performers Joan Almedilla, Ali Ewoldt,

Angel Desai, Jose Llana and Orville Mendoza


“Sondheim and After” — a listening party & lecture by Randy Gener

Tuesday, 17th of November 2011

within the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts

“Life is Beautiful”

4th edition

Bucharest, Romania

"A Medley of Sondheim" at Romania's International Festival for Musical Performing Arts
"A Medley of Sondheim," a concert at Romania's International Festival for Musical Performing Arts

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA — Continuing the success gained in 2010 of the international collaboration between New York producer Randy Gener and the National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian”, Romania celebrates Broadway composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim with a special concert performance, entitled A Medley of Sondheim, and a conference, entitled Sondheim And After: A Listening Party on America’s Greatest Living Composer, within the framework of the 4th edition of the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts “Life is Beautiful” in Bucharest.

This festival is unique in Romania, organized by the National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian,” a public cultural institution funded by that country’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.  The fourth edition of the festival takes place November 10 to 20, 2011 in several locations in Bucharest. The diversified program includes musicals, operetta performances; ballets; concerts of international artists like The Tiger Lillies, Emma Shaplin (France), Richard Galliano (Italy), Ornella Vanoni (Italy); workshops for children; book launches; exhibitions and conferences, performed and presented by Romanian and foreign artists from more than 10 countries around the world.


Performing 7PM on November 17th at the Metropolis Theater in Bucharest, A Medley of Sondheim is a concert tribute performance devoted to iconic musicals of Stephen Sondheim. This sexy Sondheim celebration features an impressive cast of Broadway’s top musical talents and Sondheim specialists, all of whom have made their marks on Broadway in leading roles:

Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables);

Angel Desai (Sondheim’s Company);

Ali Ewoldt (Les Miserables, West Side Story);

Jose Llana (The King & I, Spelling Bee, The Flower Drum Song, Wonderland); and

Orville Mendoza (Sondheim’s Road Show, The Romance of Magno Rubio in Romania).

With Jose Llana serving as director, this ensemble of five Broadway stars will perform a repertoire that includes songs from Sondheim’s iconic musicals such as Anyone Can Whistle, Company, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Road Show, among others.  Specially produced by Randy Gener for the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts, A Medley of Sondheim is a Broadway showcase based on (and independent from) an original idea for a gala concert by director Victor Lirio at the prestigious Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York.


Sondheim considers himself “a playwright in song.”  How he arrived at this unique description is the subject of Sondheim And After: A Listening Party on America’s Greatest Living Composer, which will take place on the 17th of November 2011 at 4 p.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bucharest.  The conference is an intimate forum and listening party organized by Randy Gener, the renowned American editor, theater critic and artist.

Taking Sondheim’s own comments and music as a starting point, and joined by Broadway talents and Sondheim specialists from A Medley of Sondheim, Gener pulls aside the curtain on Sondheim’s creative universe to reveal the many influences that have established Sondheim as one of the greatest dramatic composers of the twentieth century. Gener will discuss also Sondheim’s impact on current developments of the musical performance genre within American and European cultural contexts.

“Sondheim styles himself as the maverick king of Broadway, the rebel genius who didn’t just write classic songs,” Gener states.  “He fashioned modernist scores that took advantage of dissonance and urban angst about love, sex, family and marriage to challenge the mind, not soothe it. As Sondheim himself philosophizes, ’If you think of a theatre lyric as a short story, as I do, then every line has the weight of a paragraph.’  It is for this reason that Sondheim’s creative journey strives to reach the heights of a total dramaturgy within musical structures. For Sondheim, the art of writing smart lyrics rhymes with his restless search for dramatic and narrative truths.”

Beginning with ARTE (American Romanian Theatre Exchange) Program between Odeon Theatre of Bucharest and Lark Play Development Center  of New York, Gener has collaborated numerous times with leading Romanian artists, prominent critics and theater professionals to build and promote mutual understanding and connections among artists, arts organizations and public communities in the U.S. and Romania.

  • In 2007, Gener led and presented “New Waves in Romanian Theatre,” featuring directors Radu Afrim and Gabor Tompa at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York.
  • Gener wrote the introduction to roMANIA after 2000 (Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Press), the first-ever book anthology of new Romanian drama published in the USA.
  • In 2008, Gener co-produced (with Alina Moldovan, Odeon Theatre and Ma-Yi Theatre Company of New York) the European premiere of the Obie Award-winning The Romance of Magno Rubio at Odeon Theatre and Sibiu International Theatre Festival.
  • In 2009, Gener served as Series Editor of Saviana Stanescu: New York Plays, a play collection published by NoPassport Press.
  • In 2010, Gener presented a conference, “Musical Theatre in the U.S.A.,” featuring Broadway performer Jose Llana and Broadway musical composer Michael John LaChiusa, as part of the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts “Life is Beautiful!”

In the spirit of a promise made in 2008 (the first edition), and now, perhaps more than ever, the International Festival of the Musical Performing Arts aims to offer the public a series of shows and events under the sign of Beauty in Music and Theater, proving that life is still beautiful.

Tickets are now on sale at the National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian” and online (www.opereta.ro), the sites www.eventim.ro and  www.vandbilete.ro . For more information or to obtain press credentials, please contact us at the address madalina.matei @ opereta.ro or the number of  phone 021/314.11.87.

The National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian”

One of the major goals of the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts “Life is Beautiful” is to contribute to the international cultural scene and to promote the Romanian culture and the musical performing arts from Romania abroad. Given the European Union integration, the National Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian” has initiated a series of projects and partnerships in order to open its gates to European dialogue and cultural cooperation, promoting diversity and multiculturalism as well as the free circulation of artists and creation.

The artistic strategy of the festival consists of attracting valuable artists, perfecting and motivating the artists within the institution by choosing a repertoire that enhances their value, and artistically meeting the standards and requests of the international cultural markets in the field, given the Operetta’s major responsibility as an unique institution at a national level.  The programs and projects that the Operetta develop, their diversity and heterogeneity are meant to transform an institution that has the responsibility to the only Romanian to the ambassador for this delicate and valuable field of artistic action, in an active participant on both national and international cultural scenes. The promotion of contemporary creation, of interdisciplinary modes and multiculturalism, of the free movement of values and promotion of eternal human values — these are the main directions of the festival’s artistic strategy.


Joan Almedilla
Joan Almedilla

JOAN ALMEDILLA has performed the leading role of Kim in the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. She played Fantine in the National tour of the Broadway musical Les Miserables and as Soul Girl/Mary Magdalene in the National Broadway tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. She performed the role of Imelda Marcos in David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love at Carnegie Hall. She will appear in the feature film Commencement in 2012. www.joanalmedilla.com.

ALI EWOLDT just returned from a year on the road as Maria in the National Tour of the Broadway musical West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), directed by David Saint and Arthur Laurents. She made her Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of Les Miserables in the role of Cosette. Her other credits include Les Miserables (National Tour, Cosette), West Side Story (Maria, Pittsbirgh CLO, Joey McKneely’s international tour), Disney’s Aladdin (Jasmine), Encore! (Tokyo DisneySea), The King and I (Tuptim), The Fantasticks (Luisa), and workshops of the musical version of the film Giant (written and composed by Michael John LaChiusa).

Ali Ewoldt
Ali Ewoldt
Angel Desai
Angel Desai

ANGEL DESAI recently completed the world premiere of Phaedra Backwards at the McCarter Theater. She played Marta in the 2007 Tony Award ®-winning Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Off-Broadway credits include The Tempest, opposite Mandy Patinkin, and The Winter’s Tale with David Strathairn, both at CSC; Playwrights Horizons, NYTW, Ma-Yi, Public/NYSF, and MCC. Regional theater includes Cincinnati Playhouse, Yale Repertory, Long Wharf, and Arena Stage. Her recent TV credits include “The Good Wife,” and recurring roles on “The Event,” “Dollhouse,” “Kings,” and all three “Law and Order”‘s. She holds an MFA in Acting from NYU.

ALBIN KONOPKA (Musical Director) has enjoyed a long and successful international career. Besides his credits on numerous Broadway shows, he has performed in over 24 countries on 6 continents. He has worked as a producer, composer, musical director/supervisor, vocal and dance arranger and orchestrator. He has written two musicals: Ambra (in Italian) and She Schtups To Conquer. He is fluent in 5 languages and has a Masters from the Juilliard School of Music.

Jose Llana
Jose Llana

JOSE LLANA (also Director) most recently appeared on Broadway as El Gato in Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland. Other Broadway: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling as Chip Tolentino (dir. James Lapine, Drama Desk Award), Wang Ta in Flower Drum Song (dir. Bobby Longbottom), Angel in the Broadway musical Rent (dir. Michael Grief), and Lun Tha in the 1996 Revival of The King and I opposite Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy. Off-Broadway: Adam in Falling For Eve at The York Theatre, Gabey in the musical On the Town (dir. George C. Wolfe, Delacorte Theater in Central Park) and Adam Guettel’s Saturn Returns (dir. Tina Landau, Public Theater). This is Jose’s second consecutive participation in the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts “Life is Beautiful!” in Bucharest. www.josellana.com

Orville Mendoza
Orville Mendoza

ORVILLE MENDOZA is thrilled to be back in Bucharest having performed in 2008 at the Odeon Theater and the Sibiu International Theatre Festival with Ma-Yi Theatre Company’s production of The Romance of Magno Rubio. A professional actor in the U.S. for over 15 years, Orville has performed everything from Shakespeare to Chekhov to Rodgers & Hammerstein to Sondheim. He has appeared on Broadway and many Off-Broadway theatres in New York. He had the great honor of being in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s newest musical, Road Show, which premiered at The Public Theatre in NYC and recently had a successful run at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory this year.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM is an American composer and lyricist for stage and film. He has written the music and lyrics for Passion (1994), Assassins (1991), Into the Woods (1987), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sweeney Todd (1979), Pacific Overtures (1976), The Frogs (1974), A Little Night Music (1973), Follies (1971; revised in London, 1987), Company (1970), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), and Saturday Night (1954; first production in London, 1997; New York, 2000), as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965), and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). For films, he has composed the scores of Stavisky (1974) and Reds (1981) as well as songs for Dick Tracy (1990), for which he won an Academy Award. He has won Tony Awards for Best Score for a Musical for Passion, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies, and Company. On September 15, 2010, in honor of his 80th birthday, the Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

RANDY GENER is the Nathan Award winning editor, writer, critic and artist based in New York City.  He is the author of the plays Love Seats for Virginia Woolf, Wait for Me at the Bottom of the Pool, and other theatre works.  His visual-art installation, in the garden of One World, recently debuted at LaMaMa La Galleria in New York.   Widely acclaimed in the U.S. press as “an internationalist, a champion of cultural exchange and dialogue“ (New York Daily News) and as “unequaled among his contemporaries” (American Theatre magazine and Theatre Communications Group), Gener is the Broadway editor and theater critic of The New York Theatre Wire, which he co-founded in 1995. He is the U.S. editor of Critical Stages, a web journal on world theater, recently launched by the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO organization. For his editorial work and critical essays as the senior editor and contributing writer of American Theatre magazine, Gener has received, among many others, the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, the highest award for dramatic criticism in the USA and one of the most distinguished awards in the American theatre; the 2010 Deadline Club Award for Best Arts Reporting awarded by the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists “for shedding light of the government censorship and repression of artists”; a Trust for Mutual Understanding grant; and was named NLGJA Journalist of the Year 2010.  Gener’s website is theaterofOneWorld.org.

Great Performances: Sondheim - The Birthday Concert
Great Performances: Sondheim - The Birthday Concert
  • Stephen Sondheim to receive NYC arts award (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
  • Sondheim’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ slam: Producers respond (popwatch.ew.com)
  • ArtsBeat Blog: Sondheim to Receive New York City Arts Honor (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
  • Sondheim objects to ART’s â€Â?Porgy’ (boston.com)
  • Bernadette Peters’ Dark Road Returns to Broadway (abcnews.go.com)
  • Sondheim snowed in, will miss Saturday’s Orange County appearance (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
  • Stephen Sondheim can do no wrong, right? (chicagoreader.com)
  • Sondheim to receive arts honour (bbc.co.uk)
  • Sondheim pans Porgy stage remake (bbc.co.uk)
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