Once it finally got started, there were many great moments during Sunday night’s livestreamed Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, in honor of the Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. Tony Award–winning actress Donna Murphy delivered a majestic rendition of “Send in the Clowns,” and longtime Sondheim collaborator Bernadette Peters closed the event with a quietly powerful a cappella version of “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods that surely had many viewers in tears.
But the moment that captured the most attention, and the next morning was a trending topic on Twitter, was the performance of “The Ladies Who Lunch” by the starry trio of Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, and Audra McDonald. It wasn’t just the performance itself that mesmerized viewers (though it certainly did). Instead, it was the sight of the three-time Oscar winner, seemingly at home clad in a bathrobe and guzzling down an oversized martini, that had viewers raving. “Meryl Streep sipping on a martini in a bathrobe is all of us,” was the headline on an online story by Good Morning America. “My new spirit animal is Meryl Streep making a martini and then chugging a bottle of whiskey after, while singing to ‘Ladies Who Lunch,’” tweeted @sincerely__ivy.
On Monday, Baranski described to the Los Angeles Times how the performance came about. It started with a dinner the actors had with Sondheim last year. “The three of us took Steve out to dinner at an Italian restaurant, and we had a fantastic evening,” she told the paper. “When he turned 90 on the day, I wrote him, and I said, ‘We’ve really got to have another dinner like that,’ and he said the only way to do it is virtually.”
At first, the trio, who each recorded her part in the socially distanced space of their own homes, wasn’t sure how they were going to pull it off. “We all agreed we weren’t going to try and be glamorous divas in front of our cell phones,” Baranski said. “I said why don’t we just either have baseball caps and sweats on. Then, we decided on a bathrobe—like ladies drinking at home, either during the day or at the end of the day.”
Baranski said that after reading a rave review in Variety—“Brilliantly playing off and harmonizing with one another in what appeared to have been a Zoom-style taping, the three milked the boozy classic for all the dark social comedy it was worth”—she forwarded the story to McDonald and Streep with two words: “Mission accomplished.”
As the lyrics to that Company classic go, “I’ll drink to that.”
Credit: Vogue – Click here to view the article
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