Following last night’s triumph at the 2023 WhatsOnStage Awards when Old Friends won the Best Theatre Event Award, and the unforgettable all-star gala performance to celebrate the life and work of the great Stephen Sondheim at the theatre named after him in May 2022.
Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, devised and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, will open for 16 weeks only from 16 September 2023 – 6 January 2024 at the Gielgud Theatre with many of that Gala cast. Patrons can sign up for priority booking at sondheimoldfriends.com from today. Tickets will go on sale on 22 February to priority bookers and DMT+ members, with a general on-sale on 27 February at 11am.
Old Friends all-star cast will again include Bernadette Peters who is appearing in a West End run for the first time in her legendary career and Lea Salonga who is appearing for the first time in 27 years. Co-stars include several of the fabulous Gala company, including Christine Allado, Janie Dee, Bonnie Langford and Jeremy Secomb, joining them will be Beatrice Penny-Touré, Joanna Riding, and Jac Yarrow with further exciting casting to be announced soon.
Cameron Mackintosh said: “Old Friends began its journey to the West End in a conversation I had with Steve during our enforced pandemic isolation – ‘It’s time we did a third show’ said Steve, and complete the trilogy that started with Side-by-Side by Sondheim in the 1970s, followed by Putting It Together in the ‘90s. We commenced work on it but as theatres and shows started to reopen post Covid, we got distracted and then suddenly on Thanksgiving just over a year ago Steve sadly left us, leaving his extraordinary legacy of work to live on forever.
Over Christmas ‘21 I put together all our thoughts, and inspired by the shows I had worked on with him and Julia McKenzie, and the desire to showcase his greatest music as well as his great lyrics, the material of Old Friends miraculously fell onto the page pretty much as it is. Thanks to a phenomenal Gala cast, the show proved to be the great celebration we all wanted for our friend and inspiration – performed in the Sondheim Theatre, which I had rebuilt and renamed in his honour. The response to both the show and the subsequent television version recently screened by the BBC over the New Year has been quite overwhelming, so I am thrilled that Broadway legend, Bernadette Peters, one of my favourite old friends, is going to reprise her brilliant performance in what is astonishingly going to be her British stage debut – to be joined by Lea Salonga, who of course became my youngest old friend, when she created a sensation at the age of 17, starring in the original Miss Saigon – this will be her first West End run since Les Misérables 27 years ago.
Bernadette and Lea head a stellar cast of co-stars, many of whom also appeared in last year’s unforgettable Gala. Steve was always a Broadway Baby at heart, so I’m delighted that I have been able to put together one last great hurrah for my old friend, containing many of the greatest songs ever written for the musical theatre, in one ‘great big Broadway show’ – just as he wanted.”
The thrilling, joyously staged Gala of Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends sold out within a couple of hours last year leaving thousands of disappointed fans unable to get tickets, so a simultaneous screening took place at the Prince Edward Theatre. Now by popular demand, audiences will have another chance to see the never to be forgotten and one of the most talked about theatrical events of the year.
Directed by Matthew Bourne, side by side with Julia McKenzie, with choreography by Stephen Mear, conducted by Alfonso Casado Trigo, musical supervision is by Stephen Brooker, musical arrangements by Stephen Metcalfe, set design by Matt Kinley, projection design by George Reeve, lighting design by Warren Letton and sound design by Mick Potter.