Sunday, September 21, 2014
Seurat? Seurat, Dept.
I was fortunate enough to see last night's performance of this sold-out revival of a Sondheim favorite Sunday in the Park with George at the intimate Signature Theatre. Fourth row left, but not a bad seat in the house. The leads, Claybourne Elder and Brynn O'Malley, are terrific, bringing a new fire and rawness to the show's central relationship, which is saying a lot for roles that were originated by Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin.
I last saw a production during the Sondheim festival at the Kennedy Center in 2002. At that time, Melissa Errico and Raul Esparza played Dot and George in a terrific, well-staged revival. But Signature's smaller scale is perfect as a showcase for a show that's ultimately about a painting as the frame for the relationship between two people.
And to watch, 20 feet away, George arrange the dozen characters onstage into the positions they finally assume in A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte as they sing "Sunday," one of Sondheim's most moving anthems, is a breathcatching moment.
BONUS SOBSISTER SONDHEIM REALIZATION: Here's my OMG moment for the day: While researching the 2002 revival, I noticed that, among the cast of A Little Night Music--which, along with Sunday..., was one of the six plays produced for the Sondheim Celebration--was a Kristen Bell as "Fredrika Armfeldt." It couldn't be that...I mean...I saw that production and...really? But sure enough: Ms. Bell played that role two years before she broke out as TV's Veronica Mars.
DOUBLE BONUS SOBSISTER SONDHEIM REALIZATION: Here's my even-bigger OMG moment for the day: 2002 Sondheim Celebration. Company. Which I also saw and is one of my--and many people's--Sondheim faves. The lead role of "Bobby" was played at that time by...John Barrowman. John "Captain Jack Harness" Barrowman?!! Are you freakin' kidding me?!?! Now, granted, this was three years before his first appearance as that character on Doctor Who, but, dang, I guess precognition is not my mutant power.
TRIPLE BONUS SOBSISTER NON-SONDHEIM REALIZATION: The sidewalk outside Signature Theatre was jam-packed with high-schoolers, 60?, 70? of them. My friend, who was the kind and generous soul who bought the tickets, and I were more than a little concerned that they would be attending Sunday... and swamping the small space. Sure enough, we took our seats, and in came the teens, chittering, giggling, waving at each other across the space. I was even less optimistic at that point, thinking that the performance would be punctuated by texting, whispering and endless fidgeting. And...your sobsister was completely dead wrong. The show, which, as a meditation on art and creativity, ain't exactly Hairspray or Wicked, engaged the entire audience from the late-middle-aged gay couple eighth row center to the row of African-American teen girls right in front of them. And everyone stood to appreciate the cast with applause and cheers at show's end. So, bully for these kids and their teachers, and shame on me for (mis)judging books by their covers. A lovely evening was had by all.