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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sunday in the Park with George

Stephen Sondheim wrote what might be his most sophisticated and eloquent music and lyrics to this James Lapine book. This presentation by Roundabout Theater Company is actually the Menier Chocolate Factory's production straight off a smash hit run on the West End in London. It's a brilliant, elegant, and magical experience. Sam Buntrock's direction and Christopher Gattelli's musical staging make the evening unfold effortlessly as the George Seurat's "new" style of painting - pointillism -comes to life "bit by bit" on a stage presented as the canvas.

The cast is mostly from England with a few "local" replacements. Daniel Evans portrays George in both acts superbly. In one of Sondheim's more memorable numbers from the show, Putting it Together, George reminds us "Art isn't easy". And neither is this production. You can tell there was a great deal of technical precision required in this show. The bare white stage is bathed in video making it appear, among many things, a full scale vision of Seurat's painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte".

Act I takes place on a series of Sundays from 1884 to 1886 both in the the park and George's studio. Act II shuttles us forward 100 years to 1984 at an American art museum and then back on the park. What's changed in these 100 years? What is art all about? How does art get made? What does art mean to the artist? What is the legacy of an artist? This story is one very clever and poignant version of the answers to these very questions.

"Having just a vision's no solution"
"Everything depends on execution"
"Putting it together, that's what counts"

Don a parasol, stoll over to Studio 54, and see some Art! Its well put-together!