Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Conceived by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene.
Directed by Jess McLead.
Music Direction by Austin Cook.
Produced by Porchlight Music Theatre.
At Stage 773, Chicago.
Stunning Sondheim opera is wonderfully sung. Leave it to Michael
Leave it to Michael Weber and the creatives at Porchlight Music Theatre to mount a special one-act musical, an opera really, from the discarding tunes and the “trunk songs” from Stephen Sondheim in 1981. Marry Me A Little has been updated with the help and blessing of Sondheim to include songs cut from the final versions of Follies, A Little Night Music and Company among others. Based on a concept from Craig Lucas and Norman Rene, the original idea was filled with songs from early Sondheim projects such as Saturday Night, The Girls of Summer, Evening Primrose and Road Show.
Two amazing things came together to make this 70 minute sung through play work. One was the arrangement or order that the tunes appeared depicting two urban singles, each alone in their apartments in the same building. They share a Saturday night of sweet fantasies as the both yearn for love, companionship and contentment. The man, played by Austin Cook, who is also the music arranger and singer/pianist who channels Sondheim himself complete with beard. I have never seen Cook act and sing better – he was sensational!
The Girl was a photographer played by the fabulous Bethany Thomas whose powerful vocals and her skill at presenting the emotional meaning of a lyric gave depth to Sondheim’s lyrics. Indeed, both Cook and Thomas deftly depict the two urban creatives as they struggle to find love in the isolated urban landscape. This short work’s 21 songs run the range of emotional traps as the two explore their feelings and desires that ultimately deserts them. The fine Sondheim tunes are highlighted by the powerful duet, “Mary Me A Little” that has the couple stating “I’m Ready!”
From the in-the-round set (designed by Jeff Kmiec) to the terrific orchestra in the loft, Marry Me A Little is one of those off-beat treasures that features two special talents presenting a challenging song list with an emotional edge that tells a story of love, loneliness and ubran survival. Bethany Thomas and Austin Cook create a special spark. Our 70 minute journey with these two is a joyous songfest that Sondheim aficionados will cherish. This is one of the best shows of 2017!
Date Reviewed: April 17, 2017.
For more info checkout the Marry Me A Little page at theatreinchicago.com.
At Stage 773, 1225W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call773-327-5252, www.porchlightmusictheatre.org, tickets $38 -$51, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 70 minutes without an intermission, through May 21, 2017.