YORK Light are staging the Stephen Sondheim revue Side By Side By Sondheim from Thursday until Saturday at York Theatre Royal Studio.

The show comprises music and lyrics by Sondheim and music by Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne, laced together by the continuity skills of Ned Sherrin, and was first produced on Broadway by Harold Prince.

Featuring music from Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, A Funny Thing

Happened On The Way To The Forum, Anyone Can Whistle and Pacific Overtures, this Tony Award-winning show invites you to "get ready to laugh, cry and fall in love with lyrics that are heartbreakingly true and music that captures the soaring emotions of a new generation".

Side By Side serves as both an introduction to the work of the New York composer and lyricist and a celebration for his devotees.

York Light's show is directed by Fiona Baistow, from York Theatre Royal, while the musical director is John Atkin. In the company will be Kirsten Griffiths, Alexa Chaplin, Richard Bayton, Pascha Turnbull, Jonny Holbek and Emma-Louise Dickinson, who will perform such ensemble pieces as Comedy Tonight, Company, You Could Drive A Person Crazy, Everybody Says Don't, Conversation Piece and Side By Side.

Among the Act I highlights will be Alexa and Emma-Louise's If Momma Was Married; Jonny's You Must Meet My Wife and I Remember; Emma and Richard's

The Little Things You Do Together; Kirsten, Alexa and Richard's Getting Married Today; Alexa and Kirsten's Can That Boy Foxtrot ; Emma's Another Hundred People; Richard's Bring On The Girls; Pascha's Ah, Paree! and Kirsten and Richard's Broadway Baby.

Act II's numbers include Richard's Anyone Can Whistle; Kirsten's Send In The Clowns; Alexa and Emma's A Boy Like That /I Have A Love; Pascha's The Boy From...; Johnny, Pascha and Emma's Pretty Lady; Richard, Pascha and Kirsten's You Gotta Have a Gimmick; Emma's Losing My Mind; Jonny's Could I Leave You? and Alexa's I'm Still Here.

Director Fiona Baistow considered herself to be a newcomer to the work of Sondheim. "Or at least I thought I was until realising how much of Side By Side I actually knew and loved," she corrects herself.

"I was offered the chance to direct Side By Side after my debut for York Light Opera as Jan in Grease, to which I was so honoured.

"I've been a director in York for a few years now, working closely with York Theatre Royal and York Theatre Royals Youth Theatre, including as assistant director for Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes and as movement director and assistant director on Legacy, but Side By Side marks my directorial debut of a musical."

Enjoying the subsequent task, Fiona says: "For me, the work of Sondheim is so lyrically and musically impressive, complex and beautiful: things that have definitely shone through in rehearsal and in this production.

"I was really keen to make this production unique, with a real feel of an ensemble company playing with the humour, emotions, themes and connections that these lyrics hold, as well as looking at how Sondheim can be adapted and modernised. Especially since the National Theatre revival of Follies and the gender-swapped West End production of Company, something that we have a nod to in our production of Side By Side.

"The cast and our musical director, John Atkin, have worked so hard and there have been so many gorgeous moments in rehearsals, both vocally and through their performance. It’s a real gem of a show and an absolute must for Sondheim fans. I certainly am a big fan now!"

Tickets for the 7.45pm evening shows and 2pm matinee are on sale at £15 on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson