Barbara Castonguay
Review

Sunday in the Park with George at Windfall Theatre

By - May 11th, 2010 11:40 am
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What is the art of making art?

Sunday in the Park with George, written by Steven Sondheim and James Lapine, is a fictionalized imagining of George Seurat’s 1884 painting “Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte.” The musical spans 100 years, and explores this universal question.

Act One follows Seurat’s life as he is painting his famous work. The people in the painting are his friends, rivals, strangers, tourists, and his lover, Dot, whom he incorporates into the painting several times but finds himself unable to connect to in real life. He finds himself pulled between his utter obsession with the new work he is creating, and connecting with those around him. Act Two follows George’s great-grandson (also George) who is a commercial artist in 1984. He is also searching for a way to connect, both to his art and the people around him.

The famed pointillist painting.

Directed by Carol Zippel, Windfall Theatre has put together a semi-staged concert version of Sondheim’s musical.

As George, Larry Birkett plays a distracted and disconnected painter. The only moments he reveals himself to the audience are in the second act, as George (the younger) realizes his place in the world of art and in his relationships. His emotional journey is touching and very well played.

Beth Mulkerron as Dot and Marie gives an absolutely stunning performance. Rather than copy interpretations of the characters that came before her (a la Bernadette Peters), she makes the role her own. Mulkerron is completely transparent, letting us in on her every thought and emotion. Her voice is extremely versatile, playing both a young, vibrant painter’s model and a 90-year-old grandmother imparting wisdom to her grandson. Dot and Marie are the heart of this musical, imbuing the story and beautiful music with real meaning, emotion, and connection.

Sunday in the Park With George plays through May 22 at Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Ave. For tickets, call (414) 332-3963.

Categories: Theater

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