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San Jose’s 3Below opens with Sondheim revue

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Equity actors appear in “Sondheim on Sondheim,” the first theater offering at 3Below. (Courtesy photo)

South Bay theater lovers are invited to get up close and personal with Stephen Sondheim at the new 3Below in San Jose.

Formerly the Camera 3 movie complex, renovated 3Below (three theaters below the Second Street parking structure) kicks off the live theater portion of its inaugural programing with “Sondheim on Sondheim” today.

(As well as stage productions, the remodeled complex is offering revival movie screenings, interactive films, comedy, music, karaoke, open mic nights, classes and children’s programming in its 250-, 99- and 89-seat theaters.)

“Sondheim on Sondheim” directors and producers Scott Evan, Shannon Guggenheim and Stephen Guggenheim call the revue both an “excellent primer-course for ‘tween musical theater fans, and a graduate-level treat for students who’ve been studying him for decades.”

Conceived and first directed by Sondheim’s decade-long collaborator James Lapine, the show includes plentiful video footage of the composer, offering an inside view of his personal life and artistic process.

The 100-minute performance of beloved and obscure material from Sondheim’s songbook (19 shows) boasts a dedicated cast, including Amy Bouchard, Stephen Guggenheim, Susan Gundunas, Jeremy Kreamer, Hayley Lovgren, Jim Ambler, Martin Rojas Dietrich and Theresa Swain, who, during auditions, were called upon to share their favorite Sondheim memory.

They all “spoke with great reverence about how this master’s compositions and lyrics have changed their life,” said co-director Shannon Guggenheim.

In a related note, Bay Area vocalist (and longtime Sondheim fanatic) Craig Jessup, accompanied by pianist Ken Muir, brings his Sondheim show to San Francisco’s Society Cabaret in the Hotel Rex on Feb. 17.

Sondheim on Sondheim
Where: 3Below Theaters & Lounge, 288 S. Second St., San Jose
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Feb. 4
Tickets: $41 to $58
Contact: (408) 404-7711, https://3belowtheaters.com/

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