Wednesday, February 22, 2017

reviews - SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE - Theater Works

Joshua Vern and Alanna Kalbfleisch
Photo by Wade Moran / Moran Imaging
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 5th.

".Basing a musical on an artist about whom very little was known and centered on the fictitious people in one of his paintings seems like a strange idea for a show, yet Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George is a deeply moving and emotionally rich musical. It focuses on the struggles that artists encounter when creating art while also attempting to connect with the people in their lives.... is receiving a sumptuous production at Theater Works with an exceptional cast and clear direction that get across the important themes and messages of the play.
Sondheim and Lapine based their show on impressionist painter Georges Seurat and his pointillist masterpiece, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." ...they created an almost entirely fictional account of his life and turned the most prominent figure in his famous painting into Dot, George's mistress and model. Dot deeply loves George but finds herself frustrated because he is more interested in completing the two-dimensional people in his paintings than spending time with her....Director Phillip Fazio displays an abundance of dedication and passion in his abilities to effectively stage this challenging work that are on par with the succinct way that Joshua Vern portrays Seurat's commitment and hunger to his art. ...Fazio and Vern's outstanding contributions show how beauty can be made from chaos and how the creative process truly works when an artist creates a masterpiece by combining small pieces to form a larger whole....Alanna Kalbfleisch's personable, passionate, and somewhat comical portrayal of Dot and Marie are almost a mirror to George in how she evokes a stunning lust for life that thrives on personal connection. Both Vern and Kalbfleisch have clear, soaring vocals that provide power and a deep emotional connection to their songs, eliciting plenty of heartbreak and joy. Kalbfleisch is absolutely stunning...Creative elements are splendid...Steve Hilderbrand's superb music direction ensures that Sondheim's score, which features endless variations of similar staccato notes and rhythms reminiscent of Seurat's brushstrokes, achieves a rich delivery, both from the orchestra and the cast....While some people may find this show to be a musical they have a difficulty in connecting to, one thing is certain: The true beauty of the creative process, the power of connection, and the unlimited possibilities that a blank canvas has is fully and clearly on display in Theater Works' moving production of what I consider to be Sondheim and Lapine's masterpiece. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...Sunday in the Park With a masterpiece about a masterpiece. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama... focuses on the development of (George) Seurat’s 1886 painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” ...examines the creative process and also the personality of an artist whose uncompromised vision is a barrier to human connection....director Phillip Fazio renders Sondheim’s work with painstaking craftsmanship animated by a genuine passion for the material. It is a triumph of both the mind and the heart, with affecting performances and vibrant video projections that are integral, and absolutely essential, to the storytelling. Joshua Vern is pitch-perfect as George inviting voice and delivers Sondheim’s complicated melodies with aplomb...Alanna Kalbfleisch as Seurat’s put-upon paramour, Dot ...crackles with ardor, angst, indignation and melancholy ...“Sunday in the Park” is complex and cerebral in the way it explores ideas about art and reality, but it is also filled with colorfully quirky characters that represent our curious species in all its transcendent potential and its petty self-interest...." -Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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