Michael Flowers, Chelsea Reynolds, Philip Mann to talk Sondheim at VST

Participating in “The Life and Legacy of Stephen Sondheim” are, from left, Philip Mann, Chelsea Reynolds and Michael Flowers.

Some of Birmingham’s foremost interpreters of Stephen Sondheim, as directors and actors and producers, will take part in a discussion on the composer following Sunday’s matinee of Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” at the Virginia Samford Theatre.

Chelsea Reynolds, who directs that VST show, will join Michael Flowers, known for his decades of work in theater at Birmingham-Southern College, and Philip Mann, executive director of the VST, for “The Life and Legacy of Stephen Sondheim.” The discussion is free, and though the performance of “Into the Woods” is sold out, anyone can attend the discussion that will start around 5:30 p.m.

Part of VST’s Discovery Series, the panel will feature the three panelists talking about Sondheim, who died last year, and his oft-performed work.

Here’s a brief look at the participants and their Sondheim backgrounds:

  • Flowers has directed many of Sondheim’s musicals, including “Passion,” three productions of “Company,” two productions of “Into the Woods,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “West Side Story,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Side by Side by Sondheim” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” His immersion into Sondheim also included two sabbaticals devoted to studying his work. As an actor, he appeared in a revue called “Marry Me a Little,” which featured Sondheim songs cut from other shows. Flowers, who retired from BSC in 2021 but continues to work on area stages, also corresponded with Sondheim several times.
  • Reynolds, who directs the musical theater program at Samford University, has, in addition to “Into the Woods,” directed Sondheim’s “Company” at VST in 2021. Her song study class devotes a third of its time to Sondheim’s music. “I consider it a job well done when I graduate a student as a Sondheim-head, which is, thankfully, often,” she says.
  • Mann’s first exposure to Sondheim was hearing his mother, Suzanne Mann, sing “Send in the Clowns” with the Wit’s Other End comedy troupe. He later appeared in Birmingham Festival Theatre’s production of “Assassins” and Town and Gown Theatre’s “A Little Night Music.” Mann says he plans to produce “a great deal of Sondheim” at VST, including  “Assassins,” directed by Flowers, on the 2024-2025 season.

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