Sunday and Sondheim

Tomorrow I’m seeing Sunday in the Park with George at the Village Players Theatre in Oak Park. It’ll be a heck of a commute from the northern burbs, and with the way things have been going lately with the roads I might arrive with my eyes gouged out and half my hair missing. But, Sondheim! Sunday in the Park!

Truthfully, I find the show a bit of a stuffy snooze. It’s not my favorite Sondheim. However, a least favorite Sondheim is like a least favorite Shiraz – I’ll take/drink it! However, not if it’s from a box.

Ok, I’ll drink that, too. Anyway…

I’ve seen two live productions of Sunday so far:

First was a production at Pegasus Players when I first moved to Chicago in 2002. It was a very good college-level production, with a strong performance from the guy playing Georges/George, and a game, if vocally challenged, actress playing Dot/Marie. Great music direction.

As an added bonus, original Broadway SITPWG cast member Danielle Ferland made an appearance before the show to speak about her experience working on this Pulitzer Prize-winning piece. She was only 13 when she did Sunday, and she had some great backstage tales, including starting a newspaper for cast members called “The Sunday Times,” or something like that. She would write, edit and distribute it on a weekly basis. As I’m sure you all know, she then made a name for herself as the original Little Red in Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

The Pegasus Players cast of "Sunday in the Park with George"
The Pegasus Players cast of "Sunday in the Park with George"

I met Danielle at intermission, as she was still dabbing her eyes from the moving first act closer, and asked her to sign my program. After sweetly apologizing for her sobbing state, she revealed that this was the first time she’d seen the show since she did it on Broadway — 20 years prior.

Then there was the Ravinia Festival’s starry concert production, which I blogged about here. A snippet:

This was my least favorite of the series, as it seemed the most under rehearsed, with director Lonny Price doing too many strange things — like having multiple “Dots” and “Georges” filling the Pavilion stage for no other reason than to fill the stage. Audra was glorious as Dot, Cerveris was in over his head and didn’t know his lines, and LuPone slummed it, playing Yvonne and Blair and showing us her fantastic rack, as she’s wont to do.

And of course there’s the DVD of the Original Broadway cast with Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin, which I own and have seen countless times. I enjoy the cast recording, too — mostly for Bernadette and Michael Starobin’s masterful orchestrations. I listened to the new Menier Chocolate Factory cast recording, and I wasn’t impressed at all. I hated the reduced orchestrations and reedy singing with a passion.

Looking forward to seeing what Village Players has in store tomorrow.

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