Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed by Rick Frendt
Music direction by Ryan Brewster
Produced by Big Noise Theatre Company
At Prairie Lakes Theatre
Stunning production of Sunday in the Park with George a visual and vocal treat
“Why should I paint like you or anybody else? I am trying to get through to something new. Something that is my own.”
~ George in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George
Big Noise Theatre Company has reached into the stratosphere with their stunningly beautiful production of Stephen Sondheim’s 1985 Sunday in the Park with George. Utilizing an amazing amount of video animation depicting the painter at work, George explodes as an ode to the creative process and the pains associated with the creation of art. Scott J. Sumerak is a wonderful Georges Seurat. Sumerak captures Surat’s passion and obsession with detail as he pushes to toward a new use of color in landscape painting.
The musical follows Seurat as he journeys towards completion of his “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” landscape. His lover and main model is Dot, played and sung marvelously by Jeny Wasiliewski. Dot is Georges’ lover deprived due to his obsession of his work. Sondheim wrote songs for the people that populate the Parisian Island in 1886 from Dot’s lament to the rigors of still modeling to the gossip surrounding the painter who appeared every Sunday to paint. Sondheim gives Georges and Dot a marvelous duet, “Color and Light” that speaks to Dot’s loneliness and Seurat’s attention to detail. Scott Somerak passionately lands “Finishing the Hat” most effectively. Act one ends with the entire cast (which did yeomen’s work) in still pose just as the famous painting seems to come to life. Director and projection designer Rick Frendt creatively uses animation and color to show the progress of Seurat’s art.
Act two finds George, a young modern artist working in electronic image design, deftly played beardless by Scott Somerak, in a vivid display of image art as his 98 year old grandmother Marie (Jenny Wasiliweski) looks on. Marie tells George that he is the grandson of the Seurat. Act two reinforces Sondheim’s look at the creative process with tunes like “Putting It Together” and the anthem “Move On” that was emotionally belted in grand voice by Wasiliewski and Sumerak.
Sunday in the Park with George is the finest production I’ve seen at Big Noise Theatre. Rick Frendt has cast a disciplined ensemble with two terrific leads at the top of their craft. Scott Sumerak’s work here is his finest to date and Jeny Wasiliewski gave a ‘break-through’ performance. George is worth the ride out to Des Plaines. Who says there is no good theatre in the burbs? This show will prove that wrong.
At Prairie Lakes Theatre, 515 E. Thacker Street, Des Plaines, IL, call 847.391.5711 for directions, tickets $20, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with intermission.