Michael Sommers at the New Jersey News Room: So many beautiful songs are performed with such consummate artistry that it’s impossible to detail most of the highlights in Sondheim on Sondheim…. The show compiles more than 30 songs in imaginative ways and groupings. Vintage photos and video clips are augmented by plenty of fresh (and often wryly funny) documentary footage of Sondheim affably chatting about his life and work. A sterling eight-member company led by the ever-glowing Barbara Cook lends vibrant voices and exceptional interpretive gifts to the words and music created by Broadway’s master songwriter. Since the show is all about him, it’s appropriate that Sondheim himself dominates these proceedings through the informative and charming documentary segments.
Erik Haagensen at Backstage: Through the magic of Peter Flaherty’s video design, imaginatively integrated with Beowulf Borritt’s gorgeous abstract set based on rectangular shapes suggestive of Scrabble tiles, “Sondheim” engages and entrances as much through the songwriter’s chatty, intimate patter as through the top-drawer performances of the gifted eight-person cast. The resulting show is wise, warm, witty, and entirely wonderful…. What makes the show special is Sondheim’s running conversation with us. Even if you know the anecdotes and analyses, it’s great fun to get them from the horse’s mouth.
John Simon at Bloomberg News: Sondheim on Sondheim, the revue put together by James Lapine from Stephen Sondheim’s songs, confirms enchantingly what we already know but can gladly bear such eloquent repeating of: that Sondheim is the best composer- lyricist we’ve got…. The “on Sondheim” aspect comes in, with frequent remarks on the songs and related matters — on his life and work — by the man himself, a genial commentator heard and seen on screen here at many ages and stages, from infancy to seemingly this very minute. The comments are charming, witty and often uncensored (especially concerning his manipulative mother, who was known as Foxy), a touch gossipy but always pertinent rather than impertinent, with neither false modesty nor genuine arrogance. And then there are the amazing visuals.
Michael Kuchwara at Associated Press: There are a lot of wonderful moments, some intensely personal, in Sondheim on Sondheim, the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revelatory revue celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s theatrical career…. Sondheim on Sondheim celebrates craft and collaboration. And just how much hard work goes into writing a musical…. And then there is the private Sondheim — much of the new video was shot in his East Side town house and we get a peek at where the creative process starts. Plus some rather extraordinary comments about his parents — particularly his mother — with whom he had, at best, a precarious, turbulent relationship.
Peter Filichia at Theater News Online: Sondheim only appears on film or video in this enchanting new revue cooked up by longtime collaborator James Lapine. But he’s so endearing in telling stories about how he works and why some shows went right and some didn’t. Sondheim also takes the time to tell a real howler about Ethel Merman. He delivers it with the style of a great raconteur and the timing of an expert comedian. That musical theater practitioners are rabid to sing Sondheim is certainly apparent here. No other Broadway show has a cast with such disparate backgrounds…. Sondheim does not just appear on one full movie screen. Beowulf Boritt has designed 35 mini-screens that form a single unit, or split into many complicated configurations. It’s a fitting metaphor for both the work of Stephen Sondheim and the man himself.