Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sunday in the Park with George

Ted and I went with friends recently to see the production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George at Studio 54 just before it closed. Ted took me to see the original Sunday in the Park in 1985 just after we met. That was a big iconic production with stars Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin. When at the end the Seurat painting came together on stage it took my breath away.

This was a smaller production but just as moving. It came from London so the actors had English accents which struck me at first as funny for French characters. But as actors they enunciated everything very carefully and I could really understand the script and lyrics better. The smaller theater made it more intimate.

The play is about George Seurat’s struggle to be an artist in the first act, and his great grandson’s struggle to be an artist in the second act. But it’s really about all artists and their quest to make art, and surely about Stephen Sondheim’s experience as an artist.

Ted said “I miss the big orchestra,” but I wasn’t really knowledgeable enough to notice it. When at the end I saw four musicians stand up to take a bow, I couldn’t believe that they had created all that gorgeous music. The music and the songs are beautiful, and I said to Ted, “I think it is Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece.” It is a work of art about art.

Any creative person who toils at bringing forth something from themselves can relate to the themes of the show. “Anything you do let it come from you then it will be true,” sings Dot, the artist’s girlfriend. “Give us more to see.”

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