Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald & Meryl Streep in “Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration” (Photo by Broadway.com)
Viewers were an hour and 58 minutes in to watching Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration when a title card simply labeled “The Ladies Who Lunch” / Company appeared. Unlike all of the previous introductions, there was no indication to who would be performing the tune, and that’s what made the reveal so sweet. Opening with a shot of Christine Baranski pouring herself a glass of red wine and singing the first lines, fans quickly went into a frenzy over the video. Add in Meryl Streep shaking up herself a martini and Audra McDonald nursing a bourbon, and it didn’t take long for the trio’s Zoom call to go viral. In a recent episode of Broadway.com’s #LiveatFive: Home Edition, the concert’s host/producer Raúl Esparza, musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and director Paul Wontorek shared the backstory of how it came to be.
“I had just filmed with Christine on The Good Fight, and I’d done a bunch of things with Meryl,” Esparza said. “So, we had this idea to write to Meryl; she said yes within five minutes. She had an idea to do a cut number from Into the Woods, which was great, but then Christine had this crazy idea. She said, ‘Audra and Meryl and I had once had a beautiful dinner with Steve that just was laughter-filled and marvelous—what if we just give him that as a present? Let’s recreate that dinner!’ And I think what happened is going to be musical theater history.”
We may never get to dine with Sondheim in this lifetime, but at least we now have a glimpse into what a wonderful night it would be.
Watch the trio toast below!