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Sunday in the Park with George
Sunday patinkin peters a.JPG
Original Broadway Cast Recording
Music Stephen Sondheim
Lyrics Stephen Sondheim
Book James Lapine
Basis Georges Seurat's painting
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
Productions 1984 Broadway
1986 U.S. Television
1990 West End
1994 Broadway concert
2006 West End revival
2008 Broadway revival
Awards 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
1985 Drama Desk Outstanding Musical
1985 Drama Desk Outstanding Book
1985 Drama Desk Outstanding Lyrics
1991 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical
2007 Olivier Outstanding Musical

Sunday in the Park with George is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical was inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. A complex work revolving around a fictionalized Seurat immersed in single-minded concentration while painting the masterpiece, its Broadway production was greeted with mixed praise by the critics.

Nominated for ten Tony Awards, the musical won only two design awards but won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, numerous Drama Desk Awards, the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Musical and the 2007 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production (analogous to the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical). It has enjoyed several major revivals, including the 2005-06 UK production first presented at the Menier Chocolate Factory and its subsequent 2008 Broadway transfer.

Contents

Production history

Following the failure and scathing critical reception of Merrily We Roll Along in 1981 (the show closed after 16 performances), Sondheim announced his intention to leave the musical theatre to write mystery novels. He was persuaded by Lapine to return to the theatrical world after the two were inspired by "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte", the masterpiece of the French pointillist painter Georges Seurat. Lapine noted that one major figure was missing from the canvas: the artist himself.[1] This observation provided the springboard for the creation of "Sunday" and the production evolved into a meditation on art, emotional connection and community.

The musical fictionalizes the life of Seurat. In fact none of his children survived beyond infancy and he had no grandchildren. Seurat's common-law wife was Madeleine Knobloch, who gave birth to his two sons, the second after his death. Unlike Dot in the story, she lived with Seurat at the time of his death and she did not emigrate to America but died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 35.[2]

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Original Broadway production

When the show opened to subscription audiences at the Off Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters in July 1983, it comprised only the first act and even that was still in development. The first act was fleshed out and work began on the second during that time and the complete two-act show was premièred during the last three performances.[3] After seeing the show at Playwrights, composer Leonard Bernstein wrote to his friend Sondheim, calling the show "brilliant, deeply conceived, canny, magisterial and by far the most personal statement I've heard from you thus far. Bravo."[4] Following its 25 performance run at Playwrights the show transferred to the Booth Theatre on Broadway on May 2, 1984, but the second act was finalised and the show "frozen" only a few days before the opening.

When Sunday opened on Broadway it received mixed responses from critics. The New York Times theatre critic, Frank Rich, wrote: "I do know... that Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Lapine have created an audacious, haunting and, in its own intensely personal way, touching work. Even when it fails - as it does on occasion - Sunday in the Park is setting the stage for even more sustained theatrical innovations yet to come."[5] Sunday enjoyed a healthy box office, though the show would ultimately lose money; it closed after 604 performances.

Even though it was considered a brilliant artistic achievement for Sondheim and was nominated for ten Tony Awards it won only two, both for design. The major winner of the night was Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles In his acceptance speech Herman noted that the "simple, hummable tune" was still alive on Broadway, a remark some perceived as criticism of Sondheim's pointillistic score. (Herman has since denied that that was his intent.)[6]

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Though widely shunned at the Tonys, Sunday won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Musical and Sondheim and Lapine were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, only the sixth time a musical had been so honored.

On May 15, 1994, the original cast of Sunday in the Park with George returned to Broadway for a tenth anniversary concert.

London productions

Sunday premièred in the UK at London's Royal National Theatre on March 15, 1990 and ran for 117 performances, with a cast headed by Philip Quast (Georges/George), who received the Olivier Award for his performance and Maria Friedman (Dot/Marie).

The musical was revived at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, opening on November 14, 2005 and closing on March 17, 2006. The score had new orchestrations by Jason Carr. This revival, starring Olivier Award-winner Daniel Evans and Anna Jane Casey and directed by Sam Buntrock, won unanimously glowing reviews.[7] The production transferred to the historic Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End, opening on May 23, 2006 and closing on September 2, 2006. Jenna Russell replaced the unavailable Casey. At the Olivier Awards the production won in five of the six categories in which it was nominated - including Outstanding Musical Production, Best Actor and Best Actress - only losing out on the Director trophy. (The show's competition included Wicked, Spamalot, Avenue Q, Evita, Porgy and Bess and The Sound of Music, all of which received no awards.)

The London cast, nearly all experienced Sondheim performers, appear on a recording by PS Classics. This 2-disc album is the most complete recording of the score and contains a bonus track - the original, full version of "The One on the Left" (of which only a fraction survives in the final show) performed by Christopher Colley, Sarah French Ellis and Kaisa Hammarlund.

2008 Broadway revival

The 2005 West End Menier Chocolate Factory production of Sunday in the Park with George was presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54 in 2008 to very positive reviews.[8][9] Reviewers praised the script and score as well as the innovative design, and with praise for the entire cast. As a limited engagement previews started on January 25, 2008 with an opening on February 21, 2008, running through June 29 (making this the 3rd extension).[10]

Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell who played Georges/George and Dot/Marie in the 2005-2006 London production reprised their roles with Sam Buntrock directing. The cast included Michael Cumpsty (Jules/Bob), Jessica Molaskey (Yvonne/Naomi), Ed Dixon (Mr./Charles Redmond) and Mary Beth Peil (Old Lady/Blair).[11]

This production received five Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations including Outstanding Revival of a Musical and Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Evans)[12]; three Drama League Award nominations, Distinguished Revival of a Musical and Distinguished Performance Award (Russell and Evans); and seven Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and Outstanding Director of a Musical.[13]

Other productions

As part of the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration, the musical was presented in the Eisenhower Theatre from May 31, 2002 to June 28, 2002. Directed by Eric Schaeffer, the cast featured Raúl Esparza and Melissa Errico. At the Ravinia Festival Pavilion, Highland Park, Illinois, the production had a 3-show engagement, from September 3 to 4, 2004, with Michael Cerveris, Audra McDonald, Patti LuPone and direction by Lonny Price. The team responsible for the London revival would mount a production in April, 2009 at Seattle's historic 5th Avenue Theatre, featuring Hugh Panaro, Billie Wildrick, Patti Cohenour, Anne Allgood, Allen Fitzpatrick and Carol Swarbrick.

Synopsis

Act I

In 1884, Georges Seurat is sketching studies for his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." His longtime mistress, Dot, models for him despite her frustrations ("Sunday in the Park with George"). Meanwhile an Old Lady and her Nurse discuss how Paris is changing to accommodate a tower for the International Exposition. The setting abruptly changes to an art gallery, where Seurat's first painting is on display. Jules (a more successful artist and Georges's friend) and his wife Yvonne think Georges's work has ("No Life.") Back on the island Jules and Yvonne have a short discussion with Georges and depart. They take their coachman Franz with them, interrupting Franz's rendezvous with the Nurse.

In Georges's studio he works on his painting while Dot prepares for their date at the Follies ("Color and Light"). In the end Georges chooses to continue painting instead, greatly upsetting Dot.

In the park Georges sketches a grumpy Boatman. Dot enters on the arm of Louis, a baker. Two chatting shop girls both named Celeste notice Dot with a new man and ("Gossip.") Georges sketches two dogs and imagines what they might enjoy doing ("The Day Off"). Jules and Yvonne enter during the song and mock the unconventional nature of Georges's art. They protest an initiative to have his work included in the next group show. The two Celestes try to attract the attention of a handsome Soldier and his companion; Franz and his wife Frieda argue with Jules and Yvonne's daughter, Louise; Jules returns to further lecture Georges on his shortcomings as an artist; the Boatman returns and laments the condescending attitude of artists. Dot explains why she chose Louis over Georges ("Everybody Loves Louis"). The two Celestes fight over the more handsome of the two soldiers ("The One on the Left").

As the park empties for the evening, Georges returns. He misses Dot and laments that his art has alienated him from those important to him ("Finishing the Hat").

At the studio Dot tells Georges that she is pregnant and that she and Louis are getting married and leaving for America. She asks for a painting he made of her but he refuses. Jules and Yvonne come to the studio. Yvonne and Dot talk about the alienating nature of artists while Jules and Georges discuss Georges's painting in progress. Jules is not impressed with Georges's new technique. Jules and Yvonne leave and Dot and Georges examine their failed relationship ("We Do Not Belong Together").

In the park Georges and his mother, the Old Lady, reminisce ("Beautiful"). The Celestes and the Soldier argue over their respective break-ups while Jules and Frieda enter to have a clandestine affair in the park. Louise informs her mother, Yvonne, of her father's infidelity and a fight breaks out between Jules, Yvonne, Franz, and Frieda. While this conflict develops the Celestes and the Soldier squabble noisily. Soon all the park-goers are fighting furiously, until the Old Lady shouts, "Remember, Georges!" Georges takes control of the subjects of his painting, who sing in harmony ("Sunday"). Georges transforms all of the people into the final tableau of his finished painting.

Act II

As the curtain opens the characters --still in the tableau--complain about being stuck in the painting ("It's Hot Up Here"). The characters deliver short eulogies for Georges, who died suddenly at 31.

The action fast-forwards one hundred years to 1984. Georges and Dot's great-grandson, also named George and also a struggling artist, is at a museum unveiling his latest work: a color and light machine called ("Chromolume #7,") an artistic reflection on the painting from the first act. Marie, George's grandmother and Georges's and Dot's daughter, helps with the presentation. At a reception various patrons and curators congratulate George on his work while George comments about the difficulties of producing modern art ("Putting It Together"). After the museum's patrons have left Marie contemplates her legacy ("Children and Art").

Weeks later, Marie has died and George has been invited by the French government to do a presentation of the Chromolume on the island where the painting was made. On the island George reads from a book he got from his grandmother - the same book Dot used to learn to read - and ponders the similarities between himself and his great-grandfather ("Lesson #8"). A vision of Dot appears and discusses 'her' book with George. Dot tells George to stop worrying about his critics ("Move On"). George finds some words written in the back of the book - the words Georges muttered while he worked, according to Dot. As George reads them aloud the characters from the painting fill the stage and recreate their tableau ("Sunday"). As they leave and the stage resembles a blank canvas, George reads: "White: a blank page or canvas. His favorite--so many possibilities."

Musical numbers

Act I
  • "Sunday in the Park with George" – Georges & Dot
  • "No Life" – Jules, Yvonne
  • "Color and Light" – Dot, Georges
  • "Gossip" – Celeste #1, Celeste #2, Boatman, Nurse, Old Lady, Jules, Yvonne
  • "The Day Off" – Company
  • "Everybody Loves Louis" – Dot
  • "The One on the Left" – Soldier, Celeste #1, Celeste #2
  • "Finishing the Hat" – Georges
  • "We Do Not Belong Together" – Dot, Georges
  • "Beautiful" – Old Lady, Georges
  • "Sunday" – Company
Act II
  • "It's Hot Up Here" – Company
  • "Chromolume #7" - Orchestra
  • "Putting It Together" – Company
  • "Children and Art" – Marie
  • "Lesson #8" – George
  • "Move On" – George, Dot
  • "Sunday"(Reprise) – Company

Characters

Act I
  • Georges, an artist
  • Dot, his mistress and model
  • Jules, another artist
  • Yvonne, his wife
  • an Old Lady, George's mother
  • her Nurse
  • Celeste #1, a shop girl
  • Celeste #2, another shop girl
  • a Soldier
  • a Boatman
  • Franz, coachman to Jules and Yvonne
  • Frieda, cook for Jules and Yvonne and wife to Franz
  • Louise, the little daughter of Jules and Yvonne
  • Mr. & Mrs., an American couple
  • Louis, a baker and Dot's husband-to-be
Act II
  • George, an artist
  • Marie, his grandmother
  • Bob Greenberg, the museum director
  • Dennis, a technician
  • Naomi Eisen, a composer
  • Elaine, George's former wife
  • Harriet Pawling, a board member of the museum
  • Billy Webster, her friend
  • Charles Redmond, a visiting curator from Texas
  • Alex, an artist
  • Betty, another artist
  • Lee Randolph, the museum's publicist
  • Blair Daniels, an art critic

Characters and casts

1984 Broadway production
  • Georges/George - Mandy Patinkin[14]
  • Dot/Marie - Bernadette Peters[15]
  • Old Lady/Blair Daniels - Barbara Bryne
  • Nurse/Mrs./Harriet Pawling - Judith Moore
  • Franz/Dennis - Brent Spiner
  • Jules/Bob Greenberg - Charles Kimbrough
  • Yvonne/Naomi Eisen - Dana Ivey
  • Soldier/Alex - Robert Westenberg
  • Boatman/Charles Redmond - William Parry
  • Man Lying on Bank/Louis/Billy Webster - Cris Groenendaal
  • Young Man on Bank/Frieda/Betty - Nancy Opel
  • Celeste #2/Elaine - Mary D'Arcy
  • Louise/A Boy - Danielle Ferland
  • Celeste #1/A Waitress - Melanie Vaughan
  • Man with Bicycle/Museum Assistant - John Jellison
  • Mr./Lee Randolph - Kurt Knudson
  • Woman with Baby Carriage/Photographer - Sue Anne Gershenson
  • Little Girl - Michele Rigan
2006 London production
  • Georges/George - Daniel Evans
  • Dot / Marie - Jenna Russell (taking over from Anna Jane Casey)
  • Old Lady / Blair Daniels - Gay Soper
  • Nurse / Mrs. / Harriet Pawling - Joanne Redman
  • Jules / Bob Greenberg - Simon Green
  • Yvonne / Naomi Eisen - Liza Sadovy
  • Boatman / Dennis - Alasdair Harvey
  • Soldier / Alex - Christopher Colley
  • Celeste #1 / Elaine - Sarah French Ellis
  • Celeste #2 / Silent Artist - Kaisa Hammarlund
  • Mr. / Charles Redmond - Mark McKerracher
  • Louis / Billy Webster - Ian McLarnon
  • Franz / Lee Randolph - Steven Kynman
  • Frieda / Betty - Anna Lowe
  • Louise - Lauren Calpin / Georgina Hendry / Natalie Paris

Television and video

Sunday in the Park with George was taped on October 21-25, 1985 at the Booth Theatre with most of the original Broadway cast. It was broadcast on American television on February 18, 1986 on Showtime and on June 16, 1986 on Public Television's "American Playhouse". (Bernadette Peters, who was performing in Song and Dance at the time of the taping, was given time off from that play in order to be able to tape this production.[16]) This video was released on VHS by Warner Home Video on April 1, 1992; the DVD and laserdisc was released by Image Entertainment on March 23, 1999.

Cast recordings

The 1984 Original Broadway Cast recording was released by RCA in 1984. The remastered recording was released on March 20, 2007 (ASIN: B0009A40KW). This recording won the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Show Album.[17]

The 2006 London Cast Recording was released by PS Classics (2– disc set) on May 30, 2006 (ASIN: B000EZ9048).

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production, 1984

Organization Category Result
Pulitzer Prize
(1985)
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Sondheim and Lapine) Won
Tony Awards
(1984)
Best Musical Nominated
Best Original Score (Stephen Sondheim) Nominated
Best Book of a Musical (James Lapine) Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Mandy Patinkin) Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Bernadette Peters) Nominated
Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Dana Ivey) Nominated
Best Costume Design (Patricia Zipprodt, Ann Hould-Ward) Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical (James Lapine) Nominated
Best Scenic Design (Tony Straiges) Won
Best Lighting Design (Richard Nelson) Won
Drama Desk Awards
(1984)
Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical (James Lapine) Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Mandy Patinkin) Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Bernadette Peters) Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Charles Kimbrough) Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical (James Lapine) Won
Outstanding Orchestration (Michael Starobin) Won
Outstanding Lyrics (Sondheim) Won
Outstanding Music (Sondheim) Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design (Patricia Zipprodt, Ann Hould-Ward) Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design (Richard Nelson) Won
Outstanding Set Design (Tony Straiges) Won
Outstanding Special Effects (Bran Ferren) Won
New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards Best Musical (Broadway 1983–1984) Won

West End original (1990)

1991 Laurence Olivier Award

  • The American Express Award for Best New Musical (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actor in a Musical –

Philip Quast (WINNER)

  • Best Director of a Musical – Steven Pimlott (nominee)
  • Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical – Maria Friedman (nominee)
  • Best Costume Designer – Tom Cairns (nominee)
  • Best Set Designer – Tom Cairns (nominee)

London revival (2005)

2005 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards

  • Best Design – Timothy Bird and David Farley for Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier Chocolate Factory

West End revival (2006)

2007 Laurence Olivier Award

  • Outstanding Musical Production (WINNER)
  • Best Actor - Daniel Evans (WINNER)
  • Best Actress - Jenna Russell (WINNER)
  • Set Design - Timothy Bird and David Farley (WINNER)
  • Lighting Design - Natasha Chivers and Mike Robertson (WINNER)
  • Best Director - Sam Buntrock — nominee

Broadway revival (2008)

Tony Award
  • Best Revival of a Musical (nominee)
  • Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical (Daniel Evans) (nominee)
  • Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical (Jenna Russell) (nominee)
  • Best Direction of a Musical (Sam Buntrock) (nominee)
  • Best Orchestrations (Jason Carr) (nominee)
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical (David Farley and Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network)(nominees)
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical (David Farley) (nominee)
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Ken Billington) (nominee)
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical (Sebastian Frost) (nominee)

[18]

Drama Desk Awards
  • Outstanding Revival of a Musical (nominee)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Evans) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Russell) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical (Buntrock) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Orchestrations (Carr) (winner)
  • Outstanding Lighting Design (Billington) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Projection and Video Design (Bird and The Knifedge Creative Network) (winner)

[19]

Outer Critics Circle Awards
  • Outstanding Revival of a Musical (nominee)
  • Outstanding Set Design (Farley, Bird) (winners)
  • Outstanding Costume Design (Farley) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Lighting Design (Billington) (winner)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Evans) (nominee)

Drama League Award

  • Distinguished Revival of a Musical (nominee)
  • Distinguished Performance Award
Jenna Russell (nominee)
Daniel Evans (nominee)

References

  1. ^ Zadan, Craig. Sondheim & Co.", 1986, p. 295 ISBN 0-06-015649-X
  2. ^ cdc "Death of Seurat", Jan. 2005
  3. ^ Zadan, Craig. Sondheim & Co.", 1986, pp. 303-306, ISBN 0-06-015649-X
  4. ^ Brown, Chip. "Sondheim!", Smithsonian, Aug. 2002, 33(5).
  5. ^ Rich, Frank (1984-05-03). "STAGE: 'SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE'". The New York Times. http://theater2.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?res=9C0CE3DC1038F930A35756C0A962948260. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  6. ^ Ask a Star: Jerry Herman, Broadway.com, 2004-12-08.
  7. ^ Reviewsbritishtheatreguide.info
  8. ^ Reviewsnewyorktheatreguide.com
  9. ^ Reviewcurtainup.com
  10. ^ "More Color and Light: Sunday in the Park With George Extends Through June"playbill.com, April 7, 2008
  11. ^ "Freshly Framed, Sunday in the Park With George Revival Opens on Broadway"playbill.com, February 21, 2008
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew."Young Frankenstein Tops Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations"playbill.com, April 21, 2008, Retrieved 4-28-2008
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew."Drama Desk Nominees Announced; Catered Affair Garners 12 Noms"playbill.com, April 28, 2008, Retrieved 4-28-2008
  14. ^ Patinkin was replaced by Robert Westenberg, followed by Harry Groener. Patinkin returned to the show shortly before it closed.
  15. ^ Peters was replaced by Betsy Joslyn, followed by Maryann Plunkett.
  16. ^ New York Times, October 17, 1985, Section C; Page 25
  17. ^ LA Times database
  18. ^ Tony Awards Official site
  19. ^ playbill article

Further reading

  • Bauch, Marc. The American Musical. Marburg, Germany: Tectum Verlag, 2003. ISBN 382888458X described here
  • Bauch, Marc. Themes and Topics of the American Musical after World War II. Marburg, Germany: Tectum Verlag, 2001. ISBN 3828811418 described here

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sunday in the Park with George, American musical

  • "You choose things and then you lose things, and there are Louies and there are Georges...well, Louies...and George. But George has George! And I need someone!"
  • "Pretty isn't beautiful, Mother. Pretty is what changes. What the eye arranges-- is what is beautiful."
  • "I want my glasses!"
  • "There are only two worthwhile things to leave behind when you depart this world of ours - children and art."
  • "I cannot divide my feelings up as neatly as you, and I am not hiding behind my canvas - I am living in it."
  • "I am what I do. Which you knew. Which you always knew. What I thought you were a part of!"
  • "Stop worrying if your vision is new. Let others make that decision- they usually do."
  • "Anything you do, let it it come from you--then it will be new."
  • "White. A blank page of canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities." [last line]

External links


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