Given her two-decade musical theatre career has included roles in Les Misérables, Cabaret, Singing in the Rain, Cats and Beauty and the Beast, Rachael Beck obviously knows her Stephen Sondheim.

“If you’re in this industry, Sondheim is your Shakespeare,” she’s noted.

But that’s not the only reason she agreed to appear in Side by Side by Sondheim, a musical revue of the master composer and lyricist’s works coming to the Theatre Royal on April 20.

For Beck, it’s also a matter of carrying on a family legacy.

“My dad performed in Side by Side by Sondheim with the Ballina Players [theatre company] when I was about nine, so I grew up listening to this music — it’s cellular for me, really,” Beck told the Star Observer.

“My dad’s actually flying in from Bali on April 20 to see the show, which is very exciting. He might even sing a little duet with me, who knows!”

Headlined by West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall, the concert also features a host of local musical theatre talent busting out a mix of Sondheim’s iconic classics and his lesser known works. Mitchell Butel, Helen Dallimore, Lucy Durack, Melissa Langton and Shaun Rennie are among those who’ve been enlisted.

Beck admitted the concert — a charity fundraiser for the White Ribbon Foundation, an organisation campaigning to stop violence against women — also doubled as a catch-up with her friends and colleagues.

“You all have your own lives — I haven’t seen some of these people in years — so it’s so nice to come together for a night.

“These nights are also a bit of a celebration of the industry, I find — celebrating the wonderful artists we have here in Australia.”

Television stars including Paula Duncan, Judy Nunn, Andrew O’Keefe and Jessica Rowe will also appear, narrating the show.

But really, everyone’s there for the songs: those gorgeous, often impossibly camp classics Sondheim penned. Send In The Clowns, Broadway Baby, Losing My Mind, Being Alive — it’s a songlist that ensures there should be a healthy smattering of queer theatregoers in the audience.

“You can’t really go wrong with Sondheim. [Gay audiences] will be there with bells on, I’m sure. Well, they’d better be, or else I’ll tell Kylie on them,” Beck teased.

INFO: Side by Side by Sondheim, Sydney’s Theatre Royal, Friday, April 20. www.sidebyside.com.au

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