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Let’s Review: Merry music-makers stage delicious Sondheim feast at North Coast Rep

Angelina Réaux, Rena Strober, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper and Randall Dodge share a tense moment in ‘Side By Side By Sondheim.’
Angelina Réaux, Rena Strober, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper and Randall Dodge share a tense moment in ‘Side By Side By Sondheim.’
/ Aaron Rumley

It’s rare when an audience can enjoy a cornucopia of legendary Broadway and show music in one production, but that’s exactly what’s happening at North Coast Repertory Theatre in “Side By Side By Sondheim.”

Directed by NCRT’s artistic director David Ellenstein; music is by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne; continuity by Ned Sherrin and choreography by Susan Jordan-DeLeon.

The simple but efficient stage set by Marty Burnett includes two pianos so that pianists Tom Abruzzo and Alby Potts can provide excellent accompaniment to the talented singers.

International performer of opera, theater, concert and cabaret, Angelina Réaux (“La Boheme,” “Sweeney Todd”) serves up different attitudes in her solos. She’s a testy in “If Momma Was Married,” quite sexy in “Ah Paree!” and solemnly sincere in “Send In The Clowns.”

Rena Strober still has her Broadway (“Les Misérables”) and Off Broadway (“White Lies”) polish. She’s exuberant several times in “Another Hundred People,” “Broadway Baby,” and quite frenzied in “Losing My Mind.”

Randall Dodge (“No Way to Treat a Lady,” “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music”) sizzles with energy and charm in “Buddy’s Blues.” His sensitive side shows through in “I Remember,” and a romantic touch appears in “Could I Leave You.”

Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper is a great narrator, and also has a wonderful voice and impressive resume (“Side Show,” Three Days of Rain,” Off Broadway “Julius Caesar.” His solo, “Being Alive,” is truly heartfelt.

The four singers have the wit, charm and talent to make every song special. They team up with different ensembles joining all together or in pairs. Some of these songs include “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” “Pretty Lady,” “Conversation Piece,” “Side By Side By Side,” and many others.

The show flows with precision and energy thanks to Ellenstein’s direction. Any fan of musical theater will want to add this production to their “I saw it” list. It’s a wonderful and entertaining evening.