Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday in the Park -- spot on!

The first act of 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George was top-notch musical theater. By midway through Act II Weisenheimer found himself wishing he'd followed the lead of several audience members in his row who bolted at intermission in order to enjoy a sunny Seattle spring Sunday. Act I was a fascinating tale of French artist Georges Seurat, the making of his famed painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" (at right), and all of the characters therein. Act II, however, devolved into a whiny complaint about having to hang out with PR people, Texas zillionaires, and museum board members in order to make art a living.

Long after the performances and music are fogotten I'll remember the amazing set, lighting, and projection of this production, designed by David Farley, Ken Billington, and Timothy Bird & the Knifedge Creative Network, respectively. The plain white walls of the set came alive with the ever-changing art, scenes, critters, and characters of the show. The scenes in George's studio as he worked on the giant-sized painting were great,  as we the audience looked through the back side of the work to watch George at work and explaining his technique, which became known as Pointillism.

The best part of Act II was the opening number, "It's Hot Up Here," in which the denizens of the painting voice their gripes with the hot weather and the fact that they're trapped in eternity with some folks who aren't necessarily to their liking. 

Billie Wildrick was marvelous as Dot, George's model and mistress in Act I, and as Marie, George's daughter and young George's grandmother, in Act II. Hugh Panaro played both Georges, though was much more interesting as the focused, creative genius Seurat in the first half. When he got all of those folks in place in their poses for the painting, Sondheim and Lapine should have left it at that. It would have been a plenty good story and straight to the point.

Sunday in the Park with George runs at the 5th through May 10.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I am so very sorry that I missed this. When they sent around the requests for media night, I tried to answer, but was directed to the old "Hello Dolly" page instead.

I heard the set was going to be spectacular. You guys are so lucky to be able to get to so much theater!