Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sunday in the Park with George

Photo/Joan Marcus

I don't buy the shift between the first act and the second, either in tone or in music, but I'll take everything else about this masterful revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, especially the integral projection design of Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network, a seamless effect that allows us to see what the music makes us feel for George Seurat's passion. Jenna Russell deserves to steal the spotlight as Dot, the model-turned-lover that Seurat abandons for his drawings, and then again as her granddaughter, the aged but saucy old Marie: she nails the patter of "Sunday in the Park with George," slides resignation into the yawning notes of "Everybody Loves Lewis," and puts the pain in painting for the tragic, "We Do Not Belong Together." She's also one of the few people aside from Patti LuPone who can sing a groan. But credit where credit is due to Daniel Evans, who dabs his notes in "Color and Light" as if he were painting rather than singing, and finds the high playfulness and low seriousness as he explores his subjects -- two dogs -- in "The Day Off." I say little about the songs in the second act because the first act's already done them right, although "Putting It Together" does well to show the fixed smiles and strains associated with modern art. If "pretty isn't beautiful/beautiful is what changes before the eye" then it's no wonder that the first act, with a set scribbled in and out of existence, is so marvelous.

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