When the musical revue "Side by Side by Sondheim" arrives at the
Orange County Performing Arts Center Sept. 7 for a three-week
engagement, it will feature a singer-actress whose home base is
Laguna Beach and who has become one of composer Stephen Sondheim's
most celebrated performance artists.
Teri Ralston, who launched her career in a 1965 production of "The
Fantasticks" at the old Laguna Playhouse and has called Laguna home
for many years, will headline the musical revue. Also featured are
Davis Gaines, second only to Michael Crawford in longevity as the
"Phantom of the Opera," and Bets Malone, replacing the
eight-months-pregnant Tami Tappan Damiano.
"We're having a great time doing the show," Ralston said last
month, midway through an engagement in Ventura. "It's so wonderful
doing all this great music."
Indeed, Ralston is one of the performers who made Sondheim's music
great in the first place. She headlined the original Broadway
productions of "Company" and "A Little Night Music." Her other
Sondheim credits include "Follies," "Gypsy," "Sunday in the Park With
George" and a directorial stint on "Into the Woods."
Ralston's local credits include a production of "I'm Getting My
Act Together and Taking It on the Road" in Newport Beach, for which
she earned this column's Woman of the Year honors, and headlined a
staging of "Quilters" at the Laguna Playhouse. She's also appeared at
South Coast Repertory -- for the world premiere of "Prelude to a
Kiss" -- where she is on the teaching staff.
Her date with the center has been booked for two years.
"I had gotten the rights to produce 'Side by Side' a couple years
ago, and we were going to do it in Laguna, but we did 'Moving On'
instead," she said. "In talking to Joan Simmons, she got the idea to
book it at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. She presented it
to them, and they wanted to do it, and they booked it something like
two years in advance.
"It seemed like a very long time in advance, but then as it
happens, time does fly. Joan then presented it to the Rubicon
[Theatre Company], and they decided to do it, for which I am
"I had wanted to do the show sort of like 'Love Letters,' where it
could have a good, long run and bring in guest narrators. They
decided to do that, and we have guest narrators coming in each week.
Carol Cook will be with us in Orange County."
The show also is scheduled to play a one-nighter at Pepperdine
University Oct. 2 and later will check into the Pasadena Playhouse.
"My hope is that we can then continue to have a run at another
theater," Ralston said. "It's a joy to do."
The center engagement will be presented in the more intimate
Founders Hall with performances Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. until Sept. 19.
Tickets are $46 and may be purchased at (714) 556-2787.
* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot. His reviews