BWW Review: Porchlight's MARRY ME A LITTLE is a Rhapsodic Love Letter to Sondheim's Song Catalog
True blue fans of Stephen Sondheim (this reviewer included) will be drooling over Porchlight's latest offering MARRY ME A LITTLE. This two-hander revue showcases a number of Sondheim's finest trunk songs-early renditions of numbers that were cut from such musicals as FOLLIES, INTO THE WOODS and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG. Conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman René, MARRY ME A LITTLE (which has been revised for this production) introduces audiences to two lonely singles in New York City-known merely as "The Man" and "The Woman." Living just an apartment floor away, these two lament their loneliness, and it becomes up to audiences to decide if the relationship that transpires in the show is real or imagined. The details are a bit foggy as MARRY ME A LITTLE has no dialogue whatsoever, but the piece is ultimately designed to showcase Sondheim's work.
It does so marvelously-particularly because the numbers are delivered by the mellifluous talents Bethany Thomas and Austin Cook under the direction of Jess McLeod (Cook also serves as music director and occasional onstage pianist.) Thomas and Cook are equally delightful, both when singing together or when taking on solo numbers. MARRY ME A LITTLE covers a wide variety of Sondheim tunes, and the actors handle them all beautifully. Thomas displays her formidable powerhouse belt on numbers like "Can That Boy Foxtrot"-performed here as she pretends to swipe through a dating app on her phone. But she also delicately and expertly hits the high notes, both musically and emotionally, on numbers like "I Remember Sky," which comes from the television special EVENING PRIMROSE. Cook also handles his solo numbers with aplomb, banging away on the piano and bestowing so much heart to songs like "If You Can Find Me, I'm Here" (also from EVENING PRIMROSE).Thomas and Cook are also consummate professionals-the performance I saw on Sunday afternoon had a brief interruption, and both actors resumed the stage with grace and without skipping a beat.
The title song in MARRY ME A LITTLE proffers the lyric "Love me just enough." But Sondheim fans will love this expertly performed revue more than enough-Thomas and Cook together strike that beautiful balance between technical perfection and emotional vulnerability that this composer's work demands. And that's the way it ought to be.
Photo Credit: Brandon Dahlquist