Sunday in the Park with George


Sunday in the Park with George

Infobox Musical
name=Sunday in the Park with George


caption= 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= Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Drama Desk Outstanding Musical
Drama Desk Outstanding Book
Drama Desk Outstanding Lyrics
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, and the 2007 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production. 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.

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. However, he was convinced 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. In discussing the painting, Lapine noted that one major figure was missing from the canvas: the artist himself. [Zadan, Craig. "Sondheim & Co.", 1986, p. 295 ISBN 0-06-015649-X] 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, Seurat had no children who survived infancy and 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 age 35. [ [http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol11no01/04-0269.htm cdc "Death of Seurat", Jan. 2005] ]

Original Broadway production

When the show first opened to subscription audiences at the Off Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters in July 1983, only the first act was written, and still with many holes. However, the first act was fleshed out and the second act began development during this time. The second act was performed only during the last three performances. [Zadan, Craig. "Sondheim & Co.", 1986, pp. 303-306, ISBN 0-06-015649-X] After seeing the show at Playwrights, legendary 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."Brown, Chip. "Sondheim!", "Smithsonian", Aug. 2002, 33(5).] 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 finished and the show "frozen" only a few days before the opening.

When "Sunday" opened on Broadway, it received mixed praise from the 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." [cite news | url = http://theater2.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?res=9C0CE3DC1038F930A35756C0A962948260 | title = STAGE: 'SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE' |last = Rich |first = Frank| publisher = The New York Times|date = 1984-05-03 | accessdate = 2007-03-21] "Sunday" enjoyed a healthy box office, though the show would ultimately lose money; it closed after 604 performances.

It was, however, considered a brilliant artistic achievement for Sondheim and, although "Sunday" was nominated for ten Tony Awards, it won only two design awards. The major winner of the night was Jerry Herman's "La Cage aux Folles", and 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.) [ [http://www.broadway.com/gen/Buzz_Story.aspx?ci=503370 Ask a Star: Jerry Herman] , "Broadway.com", 2004-12-08.]

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" received its UK premiere 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).

In 2005, the musical made its second appearance on the London stage at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where the score was afforded 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 [http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/reviews/sundaygeorge-rev.htm] . The production transferred to historic Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End in May 2006 and ended its run in September 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 went away with nothing.)

The London cast, nearly all experienced Sondheim performers, are preserved 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 2005/6 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 [http://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/reviews/sundayintheparkwithgeorge08.htm] [http://www.curtainup.com/sundayintheparkny.html] . Reviewers praised the script and score, as well as the innovative design, with kudos for the entire cast. As a limited engagement, previews started January 25 2008 with an opening on February 21, 2008, running through June 29 (making this the 3rd extension). [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/116580.html playbill article, April 7, 2008 More Color and Light: Sunday in the Park With George Extends Through June] ]

Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, who played Georges/George and Dot/Marie in the 2005-2006 London production, reprise their roles, with Sam Buntrock directing. The cast included Michael Cumpsty (Jules/Bob), Jessica Molaskey (Yvonne/Naomi), and Mary Beth Peil (Old Lady/Blair). [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/115216.html playbill.com article, Feb. 21, 2008, Freshly Framed, Sunday in the Park With George Revival Opens on Broadway] ]

This production received five Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical and Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Evans) [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/116967.html playbill article Andrew Gans, April 21, 2008, "Young Frankenstein Tops Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations"] Retrieved 4-28-2008] ; 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. [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/117195.html playbill article, Gans, Andrew, April 28, 2008, "Drama Desk Nominees Announced; Catered Affair Garners 12 Noms", Retrieved 4-28-2008] ]

ynopsis

;Act I

In 1884, Georges Seurat is sketching studies for what is considered by many to be his masterpiece, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." His longtime mistress and model, Dot, sings of the frustrations of her vocation ("Sunday In The Park With George"). Meanwhile, an Old Lady and her Nurse discuss the changes being made to Paris to make way for the upcoming construction of a tower for the International Exposition. The setting is abruptly changed to an art gallery, where Seurat's first painting is on display. Jules, a more successful artist and a friend of Georges's, and his wife Yvonne discuss the flaws with Georges's 'mechanical' work ("No Life"). The painting is removed, and we are again on the island. After a short discussion with Georges, Jules and Yvonne depart, taking their coachman Franz with them, interrupting Franz' rendezvous with the Nurse.

In the studio, Dot powders her face in time with Georges's painting the "dots" on his current work ("Color And Light"). Georges tells Dot that he can't take her to the Follies as he has to continue work on his painting, his obsession being made even more clear through his cold dismissal. In the park, Georges sketches a grumpy Boatman. Dot enters on the arm of Louis, a baker. Two chatting shopgirls, both named Celeste, notice Dot with a new man, and comment in "Gossip", joined by the Boatman, and the Old Lady and her Nurse. Georges paints a dog, soon taking the voice of two dogs in thinking what the dogs might enjoy ("The Day Off"), and is joined by others in the park. Jules and Yvonne enter during the song and mock the unconventional nature of Georges's art, before protesting against the new 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. Georges leaves the park just as Dot and Louis enter, as Dot explains about Georges's replacement ("Everybody Loves Louis"). The two Celestes and the Soldier sing a short trio, as the shopgirls fight over the more handsome of the military pair ("The One On The Left"). As the park empties for the evening, Georges returns and tells of missing Dot, and laments that his art has alienated him from those important to him ("Finishing The Hat"). Dot reveals that she is pregnant and tells Georges that she and Louis are getting married and leaving for America with a young couple they have met, "Mr." and "Mrs.". She asks for the painting of her that he once made, but he refuses. Jules and Yvonne come to the studio, and while Yvonne and Dot talk apart about the alienating nature of artists, Jules and Georges discuss Georges's painting in progress, with Jules heatedly telling Georges that his methods are wrong. They leave, and Dot and Georges examine their failed relationship ("We Do Not Belong Together").

In the park, Georges and his mother, the Old Lady, sadly reminisce about the changes that are being made to the park ("Beautiful"). The Celestes and the Soldier argue about their recent falling out with their respective companions, while Jules and Frieda enter to have a clandestine affair in the park. Little Louise informs her mother, Yvonne, of her father's infidelity and a fight breaks out between Jules, Yvonne, Franz, and Frieda. While this conflict is developing, the Celestes and the Soldier are also squabbling noisily, as are the Boatman, Dot, and all the other characters of the park; all except the Old Lady, who tells Georges to remember to connect with his art. Georges begins to control the subjects of his painting, moving them gracefully into their positions for the painting, replacing their disagreements with beautiful harmony ("Sunday"). Georges freezes the scene in its perfect position, in a tableau of the characters which perfectly mimics his painting.

;Act IIThe second act opens on the characters-still in the same tableau ("It's Hot Up Here"). They are quite literally trapped in the painting forever, unable to move. To make matters worse, each of them is fading away as the dots that compose them disappear. The characters each deliver short eulogies about Georges's sudden death at the age of 31. When all the characters of the painting have disappeared, the action fast-forwards one hundred years later, to 1984, where Georges and Dot's great-grandson, also named George and also a struggling artist, is unveiling his latest artistic work at an art museum; a color and light machine called 'Chromolume #7', which is an artistic reflection on the painting from the first act. Helping George through the presentation of the piece are his grandmother (George and Dot's daughter) Marie, his technician Dennis, his composer Naomi Eisen, and the museum director Bob Greenberg. Following the presentation various patrons and curators congratulate George on his work, while George moves seamlessly between them, struggling to keep them all happy with the many different sides of his personality. All the characters join together discussing the troubles of creating modern art ("Putting It Together"). After most of the museum's patrons have vacated, Marie contemplates about the significance of leaving a legacy ("Children And Art"). Weeks later, George has been invited by the French government to do a presentation of the Chromolume on the island where the painting was made, and since Marie has died, he has brought the grammar book that Dot learned from, handed down from generation to generation, as something to remember her by. He reads the notes in the back of the book, referring to the earlier Georges, and thinks about the similarities between himself and his great-grandfather ("Lesson #8"). In a surreal moment, a fantasy Dot appears and discusses 'her' book with George. George and this vision of Dot sing together, as she tells him to stop caring about the criticisms leveled at his Chromolumes and continue working for his own benefit ("Move On"). As George continues to read the words that Seurat used to utter so often while working, more and more characters from the original painting fill the stage, until they join together, demonstrating George's longing for harmony, and the artistic memory of his great-grandfather ("Sunday"). Finally, all the characters leave, as George reads the final words of his counterpart, until he sees that Dot too has disappeared, and he is left with simply a blank canvas, and 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
* Putting It Together - Company
* Children and Art - Marie
* Lesson #8 - George
* Move On - George, Dot
* Sunday - 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 [Patinkin was replaced by Robert Westenberg, followed by Harry Groener. Patinkin returned to the show shortly before it closed.]
* Dot/Marie - Bernadette Peters [Peters was replaced by Betsy Joslyn, followed by Maryann Plunkett.]
* 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 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. ["New York Times", October 17, 1985, Section C; Page 25] ) This video was released on VHS by Warner Home Video on April 1, 1992; the DVD 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. [ [http://theenvelope.latimes.com/factsheets/awardsdb/env-awards-db-landing,0,3713019.htmlstory LA Times database] ]

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

Awards and nominations

Original (1984) Broadway

1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

* Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by James Lapine (WINNER) [ [http://www.pulitzer.org/index.html Information from the official Pulitzer website] ]

Tony Award

* Tony Award for Best Musical - Produced by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Emanuel Azenberg — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical - James Lapine — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Original Score - Stephen Sondheim — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical - Mandy Patinkin — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical - Bernadette Peters — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Dana Ivey —nominee
* Tony Award for Best Costume Design - Patricia Zipprodt, Ann Hould-Ward — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - James Lapine — nominee
* Tony Award for Best Scenic Design - Tony Straiges (WINNER)
* Tony Award for Best Lighting Design - Richard Nelson (WINNER)

Drama Desk Award

* Outstanding Musical - Produced by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Emanuel Azenberg (WINNER)
* Outstanding Book - James Lapine (WINNER)
* Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Mandy Patinkin — nominee
* Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Bernadette Peters — nominee
* Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical - Charles Kimbrough — nominee
* Outstanding Director of a Musical - James Lapine (WINNER)
* Outstanding Orchestration - Michael Starobin (WINNER)
* Outstanding Lyrics - Stephen Sondheim (WINNER)
* Outstanding Music - Stephen Sondheim — nominee
* Outstanding Costume Design - Patricia Zipprodt, Ann Hould-Ward — nominee
* Outstanding Lighting Design - Richard Nelson (WINNER)
* Outstanding Set Design - Tony Straiges (WINNER)
* Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Special Effects - Bran Ferren (WINNER)

New York Drama Critics' Circle Award

* Best Musical, Broadway 1983-84 (WINNER)

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) [ [http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/nominees/index.html Tony Awards Official site] ]

;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) [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/117848.html playbill article] ]

;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

Further reading

* Bauch, Marc. "The American Musical". Marburg, Germany: Tectum Verlag, 2003. ISBN 382888458X [http://www.tectum-verlag.de/8458_Marc_Bauch_The_American_Musical_with_References_to_Selected_American_Musicals_by_Richard_Rodgers_Oscar_Hammerstein_II_Arthur_Laurents_Leonard_Bernstein_Stephen_Sondheim_and_James_Lapine.html described here]
* Bauch, Marc. "Themes and Topics of the American Musical after World War II". Marburg, Germany: Tectum Verlag, 2001. ISBN 3828811418 [http://www.tectum-verlag.de/9783828811416.html described here]

External links

*
*
* [http://www.sondheimguide.com/sunday.html The Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide page for Sunday in the Park With George]
* [http://sundayinthepark.co.uk/ "Sunday in the Park with George" (London Revival)]
* [http://sundayintheparkonbroadway.com/ "Sunday in the Park with George" (Broadway revival with London revival cast, February 2008)]
* [http://www.mtishows.com/show_plot.asp?ID=000072 Detailed plot at Musical Theatre International]


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