Tuesday, February 5, 2008

RS: Sunday in the Park With George

It isn't a perfect musical. And this production hasn't fixed all of its problems. But it is still a thrilling score, joyous and rapturous and expands the soul a bit. Jenna Russell, who takes on the roles of Dot and Marie, is near perfection. She doesn't sing all the notes with the full-throttle enthusiasm of Bernadette Peters (and I personally loved her in that show), but she is a woman of desperation, desperate need for love and attention, to be seen. And when she sings--it isn't always sweet, it isn't always lovely, but it is always perfect--calibrated but never cold. The leading man, Daniel Evans, finds a fullness of life in George without ever flipping over into the schizophrenetic Patinkinisms of old. He is less successful in the second act and gives out a big old girl, gay inhale at one point that ruins a moment, but just a moment. He sings beautifully but never overblown. His ending for Finishing the Hat was simply complete. The production values are wonderful. It helped that I got to sit in the first row. I am a big fan of Jessica Molaskey, in modest doses. She is terrific. Michael Cumpsty is good but not special. Mary Beth Piel is bad but so dispassionate that you can't work up enough emotion to hate her. Alexander Gemignani is perfectly fine but does nothing to deserve his billing--nepotism rules! Everyone else is fine. They have improved on the originals in many ways. The opening of act one remains one of my favorites in theatre. The end of act one is thrilling and heartbreaking and deliciously beautiful all at once. This performance of Children and Art is brilliant. And the ending, oh the ending, I love the ending of this show. The disconnect between Dot returning to sing with modern day George does undercut the emotional punch of Move On, and I actually prefer hearing the song out of context; but it is just a stunning song. Even with that, the last 30 minutes of the show are breathtaking. A journey that brings you full circle, to the place where a perfect beginning and perfect ending meet.

1 comment:

The Write Bunch said...

HC: Thanks, RS! I'm taking my daughter to see the show on the 13th of February. I hope she enjoys it as much as you did. What a lovely review.