Zoetic Stage’s producing artistic director Stuart Meltzer was introduced to Stephen Sondheim when he was working on a kibbutz in Israel. The first soundtracks he heard? “Into the Woods,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Sunday in the Park with George,” a production he’ll direct for Zoetic that opens Thursday at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
“They were the most thrilling pieces of music I have ever heard,” says Meltzer, who directed a production of Sondheim’s “Passion” for Zoetic last season and a production of “Assassins” in 2014. “I believe he’s not only the greatest musical theater composer ever but also one of the greatest American artists, period.”
Here are Meltzer’s top five Sondheim works.
1. "Sunday in the Park with George"
“Its themes of an artist’s process and artists losing their way is so personal to me – and the score gets me bawling every time.”
2. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
“A Victorian horror tale about revenge and meat pies opens the doors for a mesmerizing masterpiece of American theater. And it’s got characters every actor would love to play.”
3. "Pacific Overtures"
“The most surprising, poetic and heartbreaking enlightenment about Japan’s early encounters with the West.”
4. "A Little Night Music"
“This musical is an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Smiles of a Summer Night,’ and it waltzes across my heart with some of Sondheim’s wittiest lyrics and romantic buffoonery.”
5. "Assassins" and "Passion"
“I’m cheating, I know. But both of these musicals hold a special place in my heart because they were the first two musicals we did at Zoetic Stage. They’re difficult, creative and spiritually rewarding and reminded me why I continue to work in theater.”
If You Go:
What: “Sunday in the Park with George,” music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine
When: Friday through Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m. Jan. 21
Where: Carnival Studio Theater at Arsht, 1301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Tickets: $55; arshtcenter.org