Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sunday in the Park with George, or How Sondheim is kind of Awesome

Sunday in the Park with George

Daniel Evans (George)
Jenna Russell (Dot / Marie)
Michael Cumpsty (Jules / Bob Greenberg)
Alexander Gemignani (Boatman / Dennis)
Jessica Molaskey (Yvonne / Naomi / Eisen)
Mary Beth Peil (Old Lady / Blair Daniels)
Ed Dixon (Mr. / Charles Redmond)
Santino Fontana (Bather / Soldier / Alex)

Because Daniel Evans and Jenna Russel sparkle in this Sondheim classic about a fictional (re)telling of George Seurat's famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte painting (see below).
Or because the staging - so modern yet so Romantic, is wonderful and really gives you the sense of watching a picture come to life (I particularly enjoyed the initial moments in Act I when George sees two trees and decides to erase one, as the one on stage disappears, only to be mourned by another character minutes later: "Where's our tree?" she bemoans).
Or because the music and lyrics manage to be bubbly (
"The collar is damp/Beginning to pinch"), insightful (" I cannot divide my feelings up as neatly as you, and I am not hiding behind my canvas-I am living in it"), heartbreaking ("Changing...It keeps changing I see towers Where there were trees") and altogether brilliant in conveying the complexity of artistic inspiration, love, muses and everyday life.
This was definitely one of those shows where, the more I think about it, the more I love it: how the picture comes to life by making its actors stand still (oh the paradox!); how 20thC George becomes

- I particularly enjoyed the seamless weaving of special effects and technology into the production.
- The soldier. So funny. So simple and so inspired!
- The fact that this is actually a thought-provoking musical.
- The music and lyrics. Oh Sondheim, you spoil us:

Overall, this is a beautifully crafted production that uses audiovisuals, talent and great music to tell a moving story about the whys and wherefores of artistic creation. See? It even elicits wholly inappropriate poetic language in attempting to critique it... that
must say something, right? A

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