Review: Side By Side By Sondheim, York Light Opera Company, York Theatre Royal Studio, today, 7,45pm; tomorrow, 2pm and 7.45pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

YORK Light’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Side by Side By Sondheim is a joy from start to finish.

But did you know that the wonderful ballad Send In The Clowns was not written by Judy Collins but by Sondheim? Well I didn’t! But that song and Anyone Can Whistle lit up the second half.

Performed by whom, I have no idea, as the programme was information light, which was the only irritating aspect of the show. Who was the "narrator"? Anyway, he was excellent and ensured that this odd mix of wonderful songs worked.

Sondheim is a brilliant dramatic writer of songs holding up a mirror to society itself. I loved the four musical essays on marriage: If Momma Was Married, You Must Meet My Wife, The Little Things You Do Together and Getting Married Today, a last-minute sober ditching of the groom at the altar.

The songs from Company were very good, but the leap from a window in Manhattan to a brothel in Vienna was utterly priceless, no pun intended…I Never Do Anything Twice. The song was delivered with all the unsubtle innuendos Sid James would have been proud of.

Like I say, I do not know who sang what, but Alexa Chaplin, Emma-Louise Dickinson, Kirsten Griffiths, Pascha Turnbull, Richard Bayton and Jonny Holbek sang really well throughout, excellent both as soloists and as an ensemble. Music director John Atkin performed with the musical, authoritative drive that is so vital. Huge credit too to director Fiona Baistow. This is a delightful must-see show.

Steve Crowther