How to Watch 'Celebrating Sondheim' on New Year's Eve

If you ask a sophisticated musical theater fan when is a good time to celebrate the work of Stephen Sondheim, one answer you would likely get is: "Tuesday." Any Tuesday. This year "this Tuesday" will be a good answer: At New York's Lincoln Center, on Tuesday, December 31, the New York Philharmonic, the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, will present "New Year's Eve: Celebrating Sondheim."

While this event is not a birthday celebration, it is certain to be one of many celebrations in advance of Sondheim's upcoming 90th birthday in March 2020. The show will be directed by Lonny Price, whose relationship with the composer goes back about 40 years, when according to his superb documentary The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, which chronicles the making and aftermath of Merrily We Roll Along, he invested his bar mitzvah money into Pacific Overtures.

Stephen Sondheim
For over 60 years, Stephen Sondheim had been given fans reasons to celebrate his work. Jerry Jackson

But from the moment he heard "Bobby," the opening number of 1970's Company, Price became hooked on Sondheim's work. He tells Newsweek, "I saw Company on the occasion of my 11th birthday with my grandmother. Her ticket broker told her it was 'a new musical opened that's supposed to be terrific for kids!' Not sure what he was thinking, but it worked out just fine for me." One can be grateful the ticket broker was not pushing Hair, another show playing at the time that was also said to be terrific for kids.

Alexander Gemignani, who has performed in several Sondheim shows and who is serving as conductor, music supervisor and music director in the current Broadway production of West Side Story, will conduct.

Katrina Lenk will be the featured singer. Most recently she was seen in in her Tony Award–winning performance in The Band's Visit stopping the show with her haunting rendition of "Omar Sharif." She repeated the feat at the 2018 Tonys. Lenk will star as Bobbie in the upcoming gender-blind production of Company, which is set to begin performances at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, on March 2, 2020.

Katrina Lenk
Tony Award winner Katrina Lenk will perform the heartbreaking "Losing My Mind" from "Follies." Susan Stripling

While the program is subject to change, the Philharmonic is scheduled to perform:

"Suite from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," arranged by Don Sebesky
"Suite from Into the Woods," arranged by Sebesky
"Multitudes of Amys" from Company arranged by Sebesky"Suite from Assassins," arranged by Michael Starobin
"Send in the Clowns," from A Little Night Music arranged by Sebesky
"Suite from Sunday in the Park with George," arranged by Starobin

Lenk is scheduled to sing "Could I Leave You?" and "Losing My Mind" from Follies.

The show is sold out—recent lottery winners might try to get tickets on StubHub—but it will also be telecast on PBS stations on Live From Lincoln Center at 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve (check local listings). It can also be streamed by members on Thirteen Passport at thirteen.org.