reviewed by Paula Citron
Sunday in the Park with George
Shaw Festival 2009
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed by Alisa Palmer
Starring Steven Sutcliffe, Julie Martel, Kyle Blair, Sharry Flett, Melanie Phillipson, Jay Turvey and Mark Uhre
At the Royal George Theatre until Nov. 1.
The Shaw Festival production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George is very good. Director Alisa Palmer and designer Judith Bowden, have created a fetching set made up of fragments of Georges Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Visually, the show is very arresting.
The problem lies with Sondheim and book writer James Lapine. The first act is weak as the men try to come to grips with Seurat’s creative process. The second act, however, of the modern George, the original Georges’ descendent, is strong.
Steven Sutcliffe as both Georges is simply wonderful. He is a gifted, nuanced singing actor, and he draws in the audience. The female lead Julie Martell is a good actress, but she is a belter as a singer, and her voice is unsuitable for Sondheim. The rest of the Shaw ensemble is just fine.
Sunday in the Park with George continues at the Royal George Theatre until Nov. 1.