Sunday in the Park With George

In a way, the story of Georges Seurat and the creation of his pointillist masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is the ideal subject for Stephen Sondheim. Not because of his wry, un-gooey sensibility or his lyric-writing gift, but because of his musical style. As Seurat did with specks of paint, Sondheim likes to build big things out of lots of little ones. So many of his songs are accretions of pithy, cellular phrases—even his most popular slow ballad, “Send In the Clowns”: “Isn’t it rich?” [rest, rest] “Are we a pair?” [rest, rest] (The song was tailored specially for Glynis Johns in A Little Night Music; not a formally-trained singer, breath control, and thus long arching melodies, were not her strong suit.) Sondheim’s patter songs, too, are rat-a-tat chains of do-zens-of-ti-ny-lit-tle-pin-prick-syl-la-bles—“Bit by bit, putting it together,” as his title character sings in Sunday in the Park With George, his luminously cerebral 1984 fantasy, with James Lapine’s book, on the origin of La Grande Jatte and the making of art. In Act 1, Georges’ work gets between him and his mistress Dot. In Act 2, another George, Dot’s great-grandson, navigates the art world of the ’80s. In the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production, computer projections will help recreate the painting in an effect that’s had critics gushing. (Closed Mon.) GAVIN BORCHERT [Read Gavin's review.]

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 & 7 p.m. Starts: April 21. Continues through May 10, 2009

 
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