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Singer to star in Sondheim revue at Mac-Haydn

Thursday, May 22, 2014
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For the opening of The Mac-Haydn Theatre’s 46th season, from left, Michael McAssey, Elliot Lane and Monica M. Wemitt rehearse “Sondheim: Putting It Together,” a revue with over 30 Stephen Sondheim songs.  (Mac-Haydn photo)
For the opening of The Mac-Haydn Theatre’s 46th season, from left, Michael McAssey, Elliot Lane and Monica M. Wemitt rehearse “Sondheim: Putting It Together,” a revue with over 30 Stephen Sondheim songs. (Mac-Haydn photo)

For much of her musical theater career, Monica Wemitt says she had things backwards.

“I used to think I was a singer who could act, but I guess I’m actually an actor who can sing,” said Wemitt, a key performer in four of the eight productions scheduled for the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham this summer.

“Then about 10 years ago people started coming up to me saying they never realized how good a singer I was. They just thought I was an actor. I said, ‘thank you, I think.’ ”

Wemitt’s busy summer officially gets started at 2 this afternoon with a matinee performance of “Sondheim: Putting It Together,” a musical revue showcasing the talent of the highly acclaimed Broadway legend, Stephen Sondheim. The title, “Putting It Together,” refers to a song from one of his biggest hits, “Sunday in the Park with George.”

“This is the second of Sondheim’s musical revues, and deals a lot with his later work,” said Wemitt, who portrays “Woman 1” in the show. “I get to sing some seriously great material, and I’ve been working on it since I got the score back in February. It’s a very wordy score and the music itself is quite challenging.”

‘Sondheim: Putting It Together’

WHERE: Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 Route 203, Chatham

WHEN: Opens 2 p.m. today and runs through June 1; performance times vary

HOW MUCH: $30-$28, $12 children under 12 with an adult

MORE INFO: www.machaydntheatre.org, 392-9292

Wordy, challenging and brilliant, according to Wemitt.

“I do love Sondheim, and I think it’s because his stuff is so smart,” she said. “He writes for actors who can sing, and his stuff is challenging. The key is constantly changing, and the rhythm. It’s hard work.”

Among the songs included in the show are “Buddies Blues” (“Follies”), “Lovely” (“Forum”), “Ladies Who Lunch” (“Company”), “Pretty Women” (“Sweeney Todd”) and “Every Day A Little Death” (“A Little Night Music”).

Wemitt also gets a rare treat by performing a rendition of a song you’re probably not familiar with unless you’ve seen “Putting It Together.”

“It’s crazy, but there’s this one song that I had never heard of, ‘Country House,’ that is a terrific song,” said Wemitt, who also serves as Mac-Haydn company manager and producer. “He cut it from ‘Follies,’ and he put it in this show and I’m very glad he did. It’s a great song.”

Wemitt, a Chatham native who has performed on Broadway with Carol Channing in “Hello Dolly!” and at Radio City Music Hall in “Stepping Out” with Liza Minnelli, will sit out Mac-Haydn’s production of “The Music Man,” June 5-15, and then get back on stage as Golde in the classic Broadway smash, “Fiddler on the Roof,” June 19-29. Although she has played Tevye’s daughters in the past, this is her first time as Golde, the mother.

“I’ve played Chava twice and Hodel once, but this is my first foray into Golde’s character,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a beautiful score, and the story is fantastic. I actually talked to a rabbi’s sister to get some background on the religion, and I was impressed with how steeped the religion is into the family. It’s about family and about making sure people are taken care of. The matches are made to promote the faith and help the family, and that’s what the show is all about.”

Wemitt is also looking forward to playing Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein” (July 24-Aug. 3) and Vicki in “The Full Monty” (Aug. 21-31).

Other shows

Also on tap this summer at Mac-Haydn are “42nd Street” (July 3-20), “Guys and Dolls” (Aug. 7-17) and “The All Night Strut” (Sept. 5-14).

All of the performances will be done in Mac-Haydn’s theater-in-the-round.

“This place has a lot going for it, and one of those things is the stage,” said Wemitt. “For younger actors who haven’t experienced theater-in-the-round it might be an issue, but I tell them it’s freeing. In real life, you don’t play a proscenium stage.”

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or bbuell@dailygazette.com.

 
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