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Image Entertainment presents
Putting It Together: A Musical Review (2006)

"Please, don't riffle through your programs trying to match us up with our headshots. We...don't look like that anymore."
- Bronson Pinchot

Review By: Ross Johnson   
Published: April 27, 2007

Stars: Carol Burnett, George Hearn, Ruthie Henshall, John Barrowman, Bronson Pinchot
Director: Don Roy King, Eric D. Schaeffer

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:36m:00s
Release Date: December 12, 2006
UPC: 014381362923
Genre: musical

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ AB+B+ B+

DVD Review

Showcasing the songs of Stephen Sondheim, Putting It Together is a light and charming tour through the last quarter-century or so of the master's music work covering some dozen shows and a movie with a small, exceptionally talented cast in a simple setting. The title song talks of the challenge of putting together a work of art (something of a leitmotif throughout), but assembling this group was certainly an excellent start.

The revue charmingly repurposes songs from the Sondheim book to tell a narrative about a cocktail party and a series of relationships and situations that arise therein. It's a loose narrative, not serving much more purpose than giving the songs a framework to hang on, but it does Sondheim the compliment of placing the universality of the material front-and-center. Even out of their original contexts, these songs all still have resonance. It helps that most of the music comes from more relationship-oriented pieces (Company, A Little Night Music, etc.) but even bits like "Pretty Women" from Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins play seamlessly into the story of a cad (George Hearn) facing the loss of his youth by making time with a ditzy beauty (Ruthie Henshall) while his wife (Carol Burnett) contemplates their marriage while considering revenge in the form of a tryst with the help. Burnett and Hearn, two veterans of the stage, have tremendous chemistry together, and it gives the themes an added poignancy. The genuine affection between them makes it easy relate to even this slightly lecherous husband. Again, though, the plot is really just an excuse to throw together some Sondheim classics. The Frogs, Sunday in the Park, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Into the Woods, and Assassins are all represented, among others, along with his music from Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy. While some of these might be a bit obscure to those expecting West Side Story or Gypsy, they're all mid-career classics from a master.

The cast is uniformly solid. Carol Burnett is of course a legend (and stops the show upon her entrance, receiving an enormous ovation), as is George Hearn. John Barrowman and Ruthie Henshall are both more recent veterans of the stage but nonetheless hold their own. Henshall has won numerous awards for her work in her native England, and American and British audiences will recognize Barrowman as the flamboyant "Captain Jack" from the current incarnation of Doctor Who, and his energy is infectious. Bronson Pinchot has perhaps the weakest voice of the five, but charisma to spare. He's outgrown his Perfect Strangers days, and his introduction to the show here sets the easygoing and ever-so-slightly naughty tone of the show perfectly. "Please, don't fart..." he sings, shyly "there's very little air and this is art."

Despite his popularity, Sondheim enthusiasts are a bit of a sub-culture in the musical theatre world. His shows are often (and appropriately) considered less showy, and a bit more mature than the work of some of the other greats in the genre. There are no helicopters or chandeliers in this production, but there is some great music and perhaps even a couple challenging insights into modern relationships. The tone is light and upper-class, with the cast keeping things down-to-earth. And often, very funny.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image looks a bit flat in places, but it's crisp without any compression artifacts or major flaws. Colors are bright and fleshtones are as natural as is possible when you're dealing with actors made-up for the stage.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: In addition to the Dolby 2.0 track, there's also a 5.1 track which has a nice range of directionality. This was filmed from a live performance, presumably limiting the audio presentation options somewhat, but nonetheless the track is full and rich in a way that showcases the music quite well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There are two, and you'd regret especially skipping the first. It's a "deleted scene" of sorts during which a Carol Burnett costume malfunction has the audience (and co-star John Barrowman) in hysterics. Others might have been embarrassed, but Burnett has never minded a laugh at her own expense.

The second is a brief (12 minutes) interview with Carol Burnett. She's always a charmer, and here discusses the show itself while elaborating a bit on that first extra.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

A musical revue is certainly the kind of thing that won't appeal to everyone, but Stephen Sondheim fans in particular will enjoy this light and charming take on the legend's last few decades in music, brought to life by a brilliant cast.


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