Friday, April 18, 2008

Our next show was an old favourite. It was a particular pleasure to follow SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE from the 150 seat Menier Chocolate Factory to the famous, 972 seat Studio 54 where it is currently playing having opened to rave reviews.

The show still stars Daniel Evans in the roles of George Seurat and his fictional great-grandson George a conceptual artist and Jenna Russell is repeating her role as Dot that she first played
when the show transfered to the Wyndhams Theatre for it's award-winning run last year. It was particularly nice to see these two performers who I have seen over the years in various west end shows having such an impact on Broadway.
To be honest I thought the supporting cast were not as good as the original Menier cast - they didn't seem to be as individualistic and didn't seem to grasp the opportunities to make their supporting characters live although their were exemptions to this: Michael Cumpsty as Jules, George's friendly artist rival, Jessica Molasky as his wife Yvonne and Mary Beth Peil as George's mother.
It was great to see again the excellent stage design by David Farley and the digital projection design by Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network. It's simple elegance echoes George's own striving for "colour and light".

Evans and Russell have built up a fine on-stage relationship making the central one resonate and I liked Jenna Russell playing Dot with a Manchester accent which hints at her eventual outsider status in George's world. Her second act role as Marie, the modern George's grandmother and the daughter of Dot was pitched just right and her singing of "Children and Art" was particularly fine. It is to Daniel Evans' credit that he keeps one interested in his roles of George Seurat and the 20th Century George as on the page they are both fairly unsympathetic characters. At least Seurat is given the songs "Color & Light" and "Finishing The Hat" to illustrate his solipsism.
And as before, Stephen Sondheim's beautiful score had a profound effect on me. For the life of me I don't understand why the song "Sunday" makes me blub but it's gentle, hushed introduction and the lovely choral refrain yearning for one perfect day which will live on forever gets me every time. The closing rendition, with Dot drawing the 20th Century George into the world of A SUNDAY AFTERNOON ON THE ISLAND OF LA GRANDE JATTE again had me choking hard but I am happy to say I wasn't alone.

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