Friday, February 15, 2008

Spend Your Sunday in the Park with George

"Oh, that's supposed to be the painting." -- Comment made by the theater-goer to my right who didn't realize until the beginning of the second act that the show is about Georges Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."

Make it a priority to get tickets to one of the most innovative productions in years: Sunday In the Park with George at Studio 54. I don't want to give too much away, particularly about the staging. In short, the show covers the following themes:

  • What do we do with romantic relationships where at least one person cannot emotionally connect?
  • Is art (or our fixations) worth more than love?
  • What is our life's legacy? Art? Children?
  • What does it mean to lose our parents?
  • How can we let go of the ideas that constrain us?
  • How can we live our lives inspired by the possibilities of a blank canvas?
  • Oh, and parasols

Sondheim's music, the staging, animations and projections are beautiful and a puzzle. How did they do what they did? Sunday in the Park sincerely combines its craft to make us feel the joy of creation and a reverence for our place, our moment in time.

I think I'm finally old enough to have seen this show.


jami said...

OK, I'm not sure whether you're being facetious at all (damn interweb, can't communicate inflection). I saw Sunday in the Park as a kid and just loved it. I'm interested to hear more about why this version was so different. The music is great. And (at least, as a kid), watching the story/painting unfold is really magical.

Major Generalist said...

Hey Jami,
Thanks for posting. My opening quote is intended to be a bit snarky since this guy had NO IDEA that the tableau that ends act 1 was the painting, even though they were projecting that very painting on-screen AT THE SAME TIME. Yikes.

But, I'm dead serious when I say I was blown away by this production and I truly loved it.


This production was so great because of the staging and projections--the stage was a white room with four doors (two on either side) and animations were projected onto the entire stage to depict the paintings as they were created. It started out in black and white smudges, then turned to B&W dots, and then finally, color.

The closing scene of Act 1 has George set up all his "characters" on stage as they appear in the painting, and as he does so, the characters in the painting are projected around and behind them in an animated fashion, a few at a time, with them moving around. It's incredibly effective in showing the character development of the people he used as models in his paintings.

There were also moments when the actors interacted with the projections around them, the best being a small canvas placed on the middle of the stage with an animated dog projected onto it. It was really incredible.

The big questions in my mind were whether the projections ran continuously, or if they were triggered by a person based on cues. Also, it was hard to tell where the projections were coming from. I suspect the backdrop of the stage was a scrim with a rear-projection since you rarely saw anyone's shadow. It was a big mystery to me how they set it all up. Definitely a triumph of multimedia technology.

Oh! and the trees! They projected trees onto hanging was breathtaking!

Allergic Girl said...

i missed the first SUNDAY production, but saw the MANDY/Berndadette products on PBS but not that same. i got tickets immediately when i saw that roundabout was doing a prodcution and am seeing it april! i so cant wait.... glad you enjoyed it.

Major Generalist said...

Hey Allergic Girl!
Thanks for your post. Sorry you won't see the show until April, but it's definitely worth the wait.

The current leads actually sound a lot like Mandy and Bernadette. I was pretty shocked.

I hope you write a review. Can't wait to read it.
-Major Generalist