Look at what you want, Not at where you are, Not at what you’ll be. -”Move On”
As a writer, I can become fixated on words. I focus on how they connect together to make sentences, stories, songs. The right combination elicits a response: to act, to feel, to inspire. The artistry is in putting it together, word by word.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. It’s 1884. Georges Seurat is obsessed with his painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” He spends his days in the park sketching and his nights in the studio painting. His mistress Dot is a muse but not amused. He focuses on the dots but not on Dot. He is so immersed in getting life perfect in his painting, he ignores life going on around him. His art imitating life is his only reality. Where should an artist draw the line? SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is a dazzling masterpiece.
The idea of a musical inspired by a well-known painting is just clever. We all look at this painting on display at the Art Institute in Chicago and wonder. Who are these people? What are they thinking? What are they doing? Well, Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (book) tell us exactly what’s going on with these famous images. They give them each a voice and a story. Sondheim even lets them complain about being in the painting in the hilarious “It’s Hot Up Here.” The premise and mechanics is ingenious. And under the expert direction of Gary Griffin, this execution is flawless. Griffin just gets it done. I believe Sondheim said it best…
Bit by bit, Putting it together…
Piece by Piece-
Only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution, Every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision’s no solution, Everything depends on execution:
Putting it together-
That’s what counts!
Griffin makes art with this show. From the orchestra placement above the stage to revolving framed projections of art (Kevin Depinet-scenic, Mike Tutaj-projections) to the colorful and all-white costumes (Mara Blumenfeld), Griffin connects all the dots to make the big picture gawk-worthy. In the leads, Jason Danieley (George) and Carmen Cusack (Dot) have powerhouse passion individually and collectively. A charismatic Danieley plays it both cavalier and endearing. A spirited and determined Cusack inspires with her ability to belt out an emotional melody and shut down a relationship. Their duet “Move On” is unforgettably gorgeous. The entire ensemble is portrait perfect in this tribute to artistry.
SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is going to be another blockbuster musical follies for Chicago Shakes! Pick a day, get a ticket, just make sure it’s SUNDAY!
Running Time: Two hours and forty-five minutes includes an intermission
At Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed by Gary Griffin
Musical direction by Brad Haak
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30
Wednesdays at 1pm
Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru November 4th
Buy Tickets at www.chicagoshakes.com