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jv92 sees Sunday in the Park with George (and Dot)

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jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/05
Is it possible for a revival of a beloved musical to top the staging and overall concept of the magnificent original production? It certainly is. The Roundabout production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George playing at Studio 54 with direction by Sam Buntrock and starring Jenna Russell and Daniel Evans is slightly better than Lapine's original staging in almost all departments.
When Lapine staged the show in 1984, we the audience felt as if we were watching the magnificent Seurat painting onstage. Now, with Buntrock's staging and the animation of the genius team working behind the scenes, we feel as if we are in the painting. The concept, the story, the themes behind Sondheim and Lapine's finest musical is clearer and all the more exciting and moving. And this is coming from a huge fan of the original! (I still am by the way).
And the performances! Despite my personal preference for Mandy Patinkin, Evans is a marvelous Seurat and equally marvelous as his great-grandson, the 80s conceptual artist. However, the standout of the production and arguably the entire theatrical season is Jenna Russell as Dot and her daughter Marie. She is luminous, incadecent, spellbinding, hearbreaking, hillarious, moving, touching, funny, brilliant and every other describing word imaginable. If there is a God, she will win the Tony. She certainly deserves to.
The supporting players fare well also. Michael Cumpsty and Jessica Molaskey are very good as Jules and Yvonne (and as Bob and Naomi in Act II). Alexander Gemignani is his usual goodself as Dennis in Act II, but his boatman in Act I is where he really shines. Mary Beth Peil is quite stunning as The Old Lady and little Kelsey Fowler is adorable as Louise.
The reduced orchestrations are fine and masterful, though one does long for the full original orchestrations. In fact, the orhestrations and Evans were the two little quibbles about the production. Fear not, they are not large quibbles or even medium sized quibbles, but what they replace are the only things I miss about the original.
So make sure you see this remarkable revival especially for the staging and animation and Russell's brilliant performance, the best I've seen this season! It is unlikely to be topped.
(Oh, and the score and book are as brilliant as ever!)
Parsley
Featured Actor
joined:1/7/06
Featured Actor
joined:
1/7/06
I loved this production and prefer it much more to the original production. I know I am in the minority here but it was partly because I really could not bear Mandy Pakinkin, and Bernadette Peters did not do much for me vocally (although her acting was stunning).

I think the freshness, the vibrancy and the intimacy of this production shines and allows the music and story more scope to breathe and excel.
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broadwayfan7
Broadway Legend
joined:10/5/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
10/5/07
Glad you enjoyed yourself!
"Everytime you step on that stage it is somebody's first Broadway show and somebody's last Broadway show. Make it count."
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frontrowcentre2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/20/05
How many players are in the orchestra? The original was scored for 11 musicians.

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

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wonderfulwizard11
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/30/05
There are five musicians.
I am a firm believer in serendipity- all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along.
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frontrowcentre2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/20/05
Wow that IS quite a reduction! Surely Roundabout could have afforded the 11 the original score called for and then not have to have had new orcestrations done.

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

Yankeefan007
Broadway Legend
joined:3/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/20/04
But the whole point is that this production isn't like the original.

Which is why they've chosen to use the same arrangements which graced the Mernier/London production.
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jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/05
I know and I thought those were fine orchestrations, Yankee. I just yearned for the originals. They were just a little bit richer in my opinion.