SALT LAKE CITY — “Content dictates form. Less is more. God is in the details.”  That is, per the musical genius of Stephen Sondheim, a revolutionary of musical theatre whose work spanned nearly 50 years. Sondheim was the captain of originality, king of complexity, and master of capturing disillusion, longing, and human perplexity in song.  While not as commercially successful as his mentor Oscar Hammerstein or contemporaries such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sondheim had a near-aversion to giving audiences what they wanted and instead stayed true to his novel vision and daring creations. Created by Sondheim himself (in collaboration with Julia Mckenzie and Jonathan Tunick), Putting it Together is a musical revue that first appeared in the 1990s and is fastidiously brought back to life by Pioneer Theatre Company.

Show closes March 18, 2023.

While Utah audiences are well acquainted with productions of Sondheim’s classics such as Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, and Into the Woods, Putting it Together is a broad showcase of work capturing music from plays such as A Little Night Music and Merrily We Roll Along and the movie Dick Tracy. Putting it Together offers a delectable little taste of these masterpiece plays Utah audiences often do not get to hear.

Complete with an eight-person orchestra, five actors, and a cheery and warm set (designed by Yoon Bae, who also designed the costumes), Putting it Together interweaves the works of Sondheim in a meaningful and fulfilling way.  With short sketches that are superbly acted and sang, audiences capture of glimpse of the angsty middled aged couples’ arguments from Follies, the comedy from Forum, and the process of creating art from Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George. The show is comedic and jovial, beginning with “Invocation & Instructions” performed by Tyrick Wiltez Jones, a riotous number detailing the do’s and don’ts of audience behavior with lines such as, “Please don’t fart. There’s very little air, and this is art.” Yet, Putting It Together also manages to capture the oscillating ambivalence and relatable emotional quandaries Sondheim’s music creates.

The cast of Putting It Together. Photo by BW Productions.

Director and choreographer Gerry McIntyre creates engaging scenes to accompany the collection of showtunes.  In “Have I got a Girl for You” (from Company), the actors feign playing tennis as their volley of lyrics match the volley of the tennis match. Also particularly compelling numbers were those that featured husband and wife played by Nicholas Rodriguez and Judy McClane. The two play well off each other during “Country House” and “Could I Leave You?” (both from Follies), giving a very potent performance of Sondheim’s lyrical wit. I was impressed with how realistic the husband and wife dynamic appeared in these songs, especially without the exposition of dialogue or the other numbers from the show.

Brent Thiessen performed “Marry Me a Little” with pure emotion and sincerity. This number (from Company) musicalizes a moment in a forever bachelor, opens to the idea of a sharing his life with another, and Thiessen conveys the revelation powerfully. Thiessen’s buttery and flawless voice is just as satisfying when coupled with the captivating Cayleigh Capaldi in “Unworthy of Your Love,” a stunning and hummable duet.  “More” is a show-stopping solo number in which Capaldi blows the roof of the house with the last note. Capaldi is sultry yet angelic, and her voice possesses such a beautiful tone and her singing is punctuated with engaging performance  as she moves about the stage.

Left to right: Brent Thiessen, Cayleigh Capaldi, Nicholas Rodriguez, and Tyrick Wiltez Jones. Photo by BW Productions.

Putting it Together is truly assembled with incredible talent and voices, but I must circle back to McClane, who is the crowning jewel on this gem of a show. In performing the monstrous, busy, challenging “Getting Married Today,” McClane manages to entertain, not lose the scene, and somehow fit in all the lyrics in an understandable manner, despite the sky-high tempo. It is a major feat to behold. Nonetheless, meeting the challenge of this song is only the beginning of her talent. McClane is suave and has complete and effortless control of her rich alto which is immaculately showcased in “The Ladies Who Lunch.”  This is a fantastic solo number filled with personality and sass. McClane owns the stage, and “I’ll drink to that.”

“Being Alive” is my favorite song.  Usually performed as solo, this song expanded into a bursting overlapping melodies performed by the full company.  This song is filled with simple but  resonating lyrics such as “somebody crowd me with love, somebody force me to care, “ and “alone is alone not alive.” An example of Sondheim’s themes of loneliness laced with the difficulties of relationships, I loved having this song building up to the finale in the touching harmonies.

Nicholas Rodriguez and Judy McLane. Photo by BW Productions.

Putting it Together is a must-see for Sondheim aficionados, but those unfamiliar with Sondheim’s work need to see it even more. Pioneer Theatre Company offers a euphonious evening, from the lovely live pianist playing Sondheim showtunes in the lobby to the last note of the show. I enjoyed every minute. My only complaint being there were not 10 more songs, as I was having such a great time.

The Pioneer Theatre Company production of Putting It Together plays Mondays through Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays at 7:30 PM, and Saturdays at 2 PM and 7:30 PM at the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre (300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City). Tickets are $48-77. For more information, visit

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.