Adapted from a 2009 post with additional video & music.
I was lucky enough to see Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin in the original Broadway production of Sunday In The Park With George, as well as the recent revival brought over from London's West End. The musical, written by my hero Stephen Sondheim, is a brilliant homage to the painting by George Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon On The Island of La Grande Jatte. I will say I enjoyed the revival, but the original was just so damn good, with amazing performances by both Bernadette and Mandy which left an indelible memory of the experience even though with was about 25 years earlier.
The first act centers on Sondheim's take on the people who influenced the characters in the painting. The second act brings the story to the present, as Seurat's [fictional] great-grandson about to put on a 'light and color' art piece, inspired by the painting produced in the first act. Like most of Sondheim's work, the music and lyrics were textured and layered, with meaning, emotion, and storyline a focus. The first act closed with George (Patinkin) finishing the painting, and placing all the characters in the tableaux.
The show focuses on the process of art for the artist, from George songs like Color And Light, Finishing The Hat, and Putting It Together opening a discussion of the thinking of artists. I certainly remember thinking it was perhaps Sondheim's most personal musical to date. His quiet, reclusive, and ponderous George was about as close to his own reputation as any character has been. In the following clip, I think Bernadette is just outstanding.
The marquee for the revival.
For me, the music in every Sondheim show is just glorious. The following is Daniel Evans singing the simply stunning song, Finishing The Hat, from a Tony Preview Concert in 2008. While the song is about his work, it really is something much more personal, confessional. Amazing lyrics, beautiful music.
The following is a clip for the song Move On from Act II of the show. I love the song, it is gorgeous. Yes,I know I've said that about other songs, but it is true, I just think the score to this musical is brilliant.