SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE AT CCM

Inspired by the painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, Sunday in the Park with George is a superb musical creation that celebrates the way art and life intersect in the most unpredictable of ways.

Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and nominated almost forty years ago for ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Stephen Sondheim’s show is now receiving a first-class production at CCM, led by the enormously creative director-choreographer Vincent DeGeorge, and the immensely talented musical director Julie Spangler, and featuring impeccable design by Jason Bowden (set and media), Alaina Pizzoferrato (lighting), and Iris Harmon (costumes.)

The superb student cast features Christian Feliciano as George and Britta Cowan as Dot, both excellent in their leading roles. Jack D’Angelo, Sasha Spitz, Tate McElhaney, Rose Messenger, August Bagg, Zoe Mezoff, Delaney Benson, Naomi Eisen, Haley Root, Nick Pattarini, Jake Waford, Cynsere Stevens, and Lucy Acuna, all of them outstanding as singing actors, share among them a couple dozen supporting roles.

The show first opened off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons as a one-act musical, possibly signaling the intention of both Sondheim and director James Lapine that “that was it,” or else conveying that theirs was a work-in-progress. By the time it first ran on Broadway in 1983, their creation now had a second act.

After many revisions and just as many revivals here and abroad, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is now a complete and finished work, with a first act set in 1884 Paris, and a second act that moves the story forward one hundred years later, to 1984, continuing its tale about creativity and rocky relationships among artists.

From an opening that bears the same title as the musical itself to the haunting “Sunday”, that closes the first act, Stephen Sondheim fills the stage with musical numbers that map out the now on, now off relationship between George and Dot, his muse, model, and sometime lover, movingly depicted in “We do not belong together.”

In the second act, George’s namesake and great grandson, George also has commitment issues, but no problem giving art the attention that love fails to occupy in his unfulfilled personal life. In the final moments of the show, a vision of Dot appears to counsel the George of the second act to stop second guessing his life choices and “Move on.”

I have no idea whether you might be able to get a ticket or two to this show, but if you do, I promise that you will not be disappointed. But please do not go expecting the kind of easy listening musical most of us grew up with, which this is not. Instead, you will be treated to great theatre, great music, great scenic design, and the work of a very gifted cast of fifteen Broadway-bound, triple-threat young talents.

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is now on stage in the Cohen Family Studio Theater at CCM, with upcoming performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 8; 2 p.m. Saturday, April 9; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10. TKTS: (513) 556-4183 or at boxoff@uc.edu

Rafael de Acha

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