The 12-year-old Ray of Light Theatre, which produces a couple of musicals every summer, had been talking, for 10 of those years, about creating a cabaret series so that it could have year-round offerings and be able to "build their base," says Justin Sadoian, the company's executive producer. Last year, the dream finally came true when the company teamed up with Martuni's, the venerable piano bar, to create the Spotlight Series, and this month's event, "Sunday at the Bar with Steve" -- that is, Stephen Sondheim -- is in honor of Ray of Light's first show of the season, Into the Woods.
This is the cabaret's first multi-performer event: Under the musical direction of David Möschler, Ray of Light veterans Danny Cozart, Mia Fryvecind, Helen Laroche, and Kevin Singer give a preview of coming attractions from Woods and sing other Sondheim standards, but they also, says Sadoian, "resurrect some Sondheim songs that don't get a lot of action."
Singing at Martuni's, he says, is an "exciting opportunity" for actors who are used to the fourth wall dividing them from the audience. "You bring it down to a smaller, more intimate level," he says of the singers, "because you're not separated by the stage and bright lights. Audiences are a couple of feet from you, so you can gauge their reaction." And in true Martuni's fashion, there will be an open mike afterwards to accommodate others who have caught the Sondheim bug.
"Sunday at the Bar with Steve" starts at 7 p.m. at Martuni's, 4 Valencia St., S.F. Admission is $15; visit rayoflighttheatre.com.