Book by James Lapine
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
based on the paintings and life of George Seurat

INFO:
Opened at the Booth Theatre    May 2, 1982   604 performances
Original Director: James Lapine
Original Choreographer: Randolyn Zinn (Movement)
Original Producer:The Schubert Organization, Emanuel Azenberg
Original Leads: George: Mandy Pantinkin    Dot: Bernadette Peters
Cast Size: Male: 2    Female: 2    Ensemble: 6 m- 8 fm    Total Cast Size: 18
Orchestra: 12. Could be done with less, perhaps as few as 4.
Published Script: Applause
Production Rights: MTI (Music Theater International)
Recordings: The original production is beautiful, and was also filmed by Showtime.
Film: The original production, see it!
Other shows by the authors: Both: Into The Woods, Passion.   Sondheim: West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Assassins
Awards: The Pulitzer Prize, Was nominated for 10 Tonys, but shamefully for the Tony voters, won only two for design. How it failed to win Best Musical, Best Score, Best Actor and Actress (Patinkin, Peters) is a mystery. The New York Drama Critics showed more common sense and gave it Best Musical, as did the Drama Desk.

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW: Sunday In The Park is a unique show. It is theatrically advanced, a bit experimental. The talent needed to carry the two lead roles is prodigious. The music is remarkably rich and complex throughout. In other words, you need to have your act together top do this show. A fine show for a college or university to attempt, though it will be a real challenge. Stock companies, semi-pro and pro could certainly do it. Adventurous Dinner Theatre and Little Theatre groups could do this one, too, if the talent is available. The technical demands are not outside the reach of companies with limited resources, and a small-ish (though not really small) stage will accommodate the show.

Be Warned:

I think Act I works better than Act II, though the second Act is effective in many ways. That said, I think this show requires a very strong directorial hand. It can wander, seem to run away from the actors and the audience without a hand at the wheel. The music is quite tough, Sondheim in his maturity, and if you don’t have the Musical Director, the leads and company to sing this material, don’t do this show. Also, the show deals with some mature themes. Dot is not married to George, but has an on-going relationship with him and a child out of wedlock. If you have skiddish audiences that don’t like that sort of thing, this isn’t the right show for you. Also, on set design, at the end of Act I, you will need top recreate Seurat’s great masterwork, La Grande Jatte, using the set and actors. This is quite an artistic undertaking, as you can imagine.

If you are not sure that you have designers and artists in the set department to do this sort of ornate work with precision and skill, then this show is out of reach.

THE STORY: ACT ONE: A white, empty stage, ready to have something created on it. Enter George Seurat, the pointillist French painter.

He looks at a blank white page ready to be painted, and reviews in his mind the elements of painting. As he says, and as the entire show will now work to do, “The challenge: bring order to the whole, through design. Composition. Balance. Light. And harmony.” He brings Dot on stage to paint her, and elements of the park appear toward the back of the stage. She wants to talk, it’s hot, and she’s uncomfortable. But George demands she stand still so he can paint her. As he starts to paint, and moves objects in the painting, they are moved in “real life” on stage, such as a tree, sometimes alarming the people in the park. But George paints on, and Dot complains about the heat, standing still, all of it. But she also knows that George is good, and that this is her chance for immortality. (“Sunday In The Park With George”) He paints her, though she suggests they return to this studio for some hanky-panky. He is determined.

As he does, life in the park swirls around them, but he pays no notice, even if they all are aware of him and think little of him or his model. A well-to-do middle-aged couple, Jules and Yvonne, he a painter, stop to view George’s work, and proclaim it has “No Life”.  Jules informs George that they must speak, and then he and Yvonne simply move on. Dot hates them. George finishes for the day and thanks her. Dot, perhaps not the brightest of people, is proud of the fact that she started to actually concentrate, as George asked her to. George offers to draw an old lady who has been commenting on his work. Turns out she’s his mother, but does not want anyone to know.

The studio. (No actual change of set required, just a shift in lighting, and perhaps the introduction of a chair or two.) Dot sits at a mirror and does her make-up, much as she looked when he painted her in “La Poudreuse”. (You can see this painting at this link.) While she works on her face and tries to understand George, whom she is clearly in love with, he creates on canvas with “Color And Light”, a detailed series of colored dots which combine in the eye and mind to make an image. She considers that if she were built just a bit differently, she’d be a dancer in the Follies, and he paints on. And she wonders, what does he see when he looks at her. And she wishes he would look at her forever, and as he paints, so does he. She expects him to dress for the Follies, but he is determined to paint on into the night. Another Sunday in the park. George sketches a boatman, as Dot shows up with another man, Louis the Bake, and others “Gossip”. Jules and Yvonne scoff at George’s artistic experiments.

All the various people in the park speak about each other, usually in derogatory ways. Human life, on display. George paints on. Louis sits with Dot, as she reads from a lesson book on language, trying to improve herself, as she always does. The boatman screams at a dog, George, a peaceful man, points out that his shouts were not necessary, and the man storms off. George is reduced to painting the dog, and is perfectly happy doing so, and imagining as he does what dogs think and feel. Two ladies ask if he will paint them, and he informs them that he already has, from a distance, weeks ago. He encounters Dot, and sees that she is studying. They are cordial, and George wishes they were together, but Louis interrupts. George returns to paint spot, the dog. (“The Day Off”)

And life rolls on around him, his mother certain he’s insane. Two soldiers approach the two girls Seurat painted, and make a move on them. Workers complain about having to work for others. It is an overall picture of human behavior. Jules chides George fro working on Sunday again. George points out that Jules doesn’t like George’s work, and Jules informs him that he did, once. Jules hates that George is always changing, and they fight, but when George invites him to the studio for his opinion, Jules is interested in spite of himself. George returns top sketching the boatman, a cantankerous man who does not like painters much. And he paints on. Dot watches George work, and is ignored. She declares that “Everybody Love Louis”, her current boyfriend, a baker, that his works are far more easily digested than George’s. But she clearly is in love with George. An American couple enter the park, Mr. and Mrs. They are not loving Paris, and decide to return home, as it really does not look like the paintings she has seen of it. And they decide they will take a French Baker with them. (They are wealthy, apparently.) The soldiers continue their assault on the two women, George paints them all, focusing for a moment on the remarkable detail in “Finishing The Hat” in front of him. (This song has become sort of a definitive statement about Sondheim’s own creative process, and he named the book he wrote about writing after the song. It is a beautiful entry into the creative process and temperament.)  The American couple who cannot speak French approach the boatman, and speaking rather stupidly, ask how to get off the island. He suggests they walk into the water and drown.

The studio. Dot and George speak, and he tells her the painting is nearly done. He hopes she will “change her mind,” but she will not. She is going to marry Louis, even though Louis the Baker is aware that she is pregnant with George’s child. She asks George to give her the painting he made of her powdering herself, and he points out that it is his painting. Jules arrives with Yvonne, George asks Dot to stay. Jules and Yvonne look at the great, enormous painting. (It takes up an entire wall.) Dot and Yvonne speak in the other room. She claims Jules respects George, but Dot says the Jules is jealous of George. Yvonne points out that jealousy is a form of flattery, just as she, Yvonne, has been jealous of Dot from time to time. Jules and George speak of the painting. George explains his pointillist approach. Jules despises the work, he does not see it as art. And Jules says the George wanted Jules to see Le Grande Jatte to include it in the next art show. As he leaves, he says that he will consider it.

George returns to his painting, to forget his woes, and forgets Dot, who intrudes to let him know she will be leaving to America, with Louis. He runs away to his work, and angry and damaged, Dot declares that “We Do Not Belong Together”, that she is moving on. To the park, and George’s mother seems to have changed. She speaks with fond reminiscence of George. George contradicts all her “fond memories.” But she is old, and wants to remember things as “Beautiful”, now. And she sees that George makes things beautiful, and that is good.

People in the park fight, love, live. Dot again confronts George, and she carries her baby, Marie. They’ve come to watch him paint a last time. They are leaving for America, and she wants the painting he did of her. He has prepared the ultimate revenge on her – he has repainted the work with another model. Dot departs, as George will not even look at his own daughter. He paints his mother again, and she expresses concerns over how he lives his life, always dreaming. But George is having a problem feeling connected to his work, and to anything in life. Jules enters with another woman, who is attached to a jealous man, Franz. Frieda and he look for a quiet corner. Soldiers pursue their chosen girls. Yvonne shows up at the park looking for her child, Louise, who Frieda is supposed to be looking after. A huge fight takes over the park and everyone there has the problem George is having – they cannot connect. And suddenly, order is restored, as they each move slowly into their correct place, George guiding the way, and Le Grande Jatte takes its final glorious form in perhaps the most uplifting, moving ending for a first act in all of musical theater. (“Sunday” I would argue that this is Sondheim’s greatest musical number.)

ACT TWO: The painting is done, and everyone is stationary. Slowly, they start to complain that “It’s Hot Up Here”, forever. They are unhappy in these relationships, Jules feels he’s out of proportion, and they all feel it’s degrading that the painting is fading. George enters and seems to ramble, as if he is losing his mind, and then exits. The people in the tableau start to depart, until finally no one is left, and the stage is white and empty again.

Dot states that she was in Charleston, North Carolina, when she heard of George’s death at age 31. Jules attempts to eulogize George, but is not sincere. A change takes the stage. It is 1984, in the Chicago Institute. (The year the musical opened.) A young descendent of George enters (it is George again, the same actor), wheeling in his grandmother, Marie, the daughter of George and Dot, in a wheelchair. (She is played by the actress who played Dot.) This young George is also an artist, who introduces in the museum space his newest work, one using lights and modern techniques, to commemorate Seurat’s great work, who was his Great Grandfather. We see a slide show sort of history which is narrated by Marie, this young George’s Grandmother, and Dot and George’s daughter. It is Seurat’s history. But Marie is growing somewhat senile and slips in some of her own history and comments. George activates his new work of art, and the stage itself become pointillist art until there’s a short, darkness, and even the music stops. Power is restored, the electric art piece and the slide show continue. Again narrating the slides, Marie and George explain that she is Seurat’s daughter. George is upset by this, as he does not believe it’s true, and quickly changes the subject, inviting the audience to see his work on display.

To music similar to that used in Act One as Seurat’s work was criticized, this new George finds his work similarly attacked. George works the crowd to earn support, and funding, working and “Putting It Together” in a way Seurat was never able to. It is bit by bit, dot by dot, an “art” of the business of art as pointillist as Seurat’s works. During this length number, we see the various reactions to his work, including his technical associate who wants to quit because the work is too high-pressure, and return to a calm job at NASA. One art critic appreciates George’s possible family tie to Seurat, which George continues to deny, and feels that having George’s Grandmother on stage with him humanized the whole event more than the seventh work in his “chormolume” line deserves. (This is a very long number that takes much of the act, and uses various musical these which might considered their own songs.) Dinner is finally served. The critic, Blair (a woman), corners Marie who corrects him about an object in Seurat’s masterwork. He thinks it’s a baby carriage, she says it was Louis’ waffle stove, which her mother spoke of often. She claims the painting as a part of her family heritage, as well as the small book she carries…Dots language lesson book.

They’re joined by Elaine, George’s ex-wife. Marie plainly states she wants George to have children and continue the line. Marie asks Blair if she is married. Elaine offers to take Marie back to the hotel, George would like to do it as an excuse to escape the party in his honor. All the while, Marie stares up at Seurat’s painting and remembers talks with her mother about “Children And Art”.

The island. George talks with Dennis, his technical expert, about mounting an electric work of art on this much-changed island, and how they will do it. This will be his next Chromolume. But Dennis does want to quit, he’s tired of Chromolumes and wants to do something new. Marie has died, and George carries the small red book with him. Dennis looked at it, and thinks it’s special. When George points out that it’s only a grammar book, Dennis suggests he look at the notes in the back, and hopes that George will grow into some new art as he takes his leave.

George reads through the grammar, simple sentences like “George looks around…George is alone…George misses a lot…” (“Lesson # 8”) As he sings, Dot appears and confronts him as if he were her George, Seurat. She says it is her book. He is having a hard time understanding it. Thinking he is Seurat, she asks him what new thing he’s working on. Nothing new. And she tells him that is not like him. She insist he do what he always did (as Seurat) and “Move On”, see everything, find a new art. Finally, he asks why she wrote the words at the back of the book. She tells this new George that they are “his words”, those of Seurat. “Order, design, tension, composition, balance, light.” He can’t read the last one and she helps. It’s “harmony.” As he takes it in, Sunday” is heard and the cast take their positions once again in Seurat’s masterwork. They then leave slowly, leaving Dot and young George, who reads the last note in the red book. “White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities…” Having done her work, Dot vanishes.

THE SONGS: “Sunday In The Park With George”, “No Life”, “Color And Light”, “Gossip”, “The Day Off”, “Everybody Love Louis”,“Finishing The Hat”, “We Do Not Belong Together”, “Beautiful”, “Sunday”, “It’s Hot Up Here”, “Chromolume # 7”, “Putting It Together”,”Children And Art”, “Lesson # 8”, “Move On”, “Sunday”

It’s a gorgeous score, but there are no real “hit songs”. Maybe “Finishing The Hat”, in a way. It doesn’t need hit songs to work.

MY OPINIONS:

As always, feel free to skip or ignore my opinions and rating.  After all, it’s all  just words words words words dot dot words words words…

It’s a beautiful, sometimes breathtaking show, with sky-high ambitions, but it has flaws that keep it from three stars. This is an extraordinarily rich musical, rich with detail and ideas, but it isn’t a “perfect” show.

The musical numbers are built in modular sections, a form Sondheim had experimented with and used in earlier shows such as Merrily We Roll Along, but here it ascends at time to high art. The very form is the message. If the audience is attentive, they will see the modular building blocks put together into a whole picture as Seurat used dots of color and light to create images. This is brilliant, and no one but Sondheim could have done it. But it is almost unusual and unnerving for a man who professes to have left behind the Rodgers and Hammerstein formula of establishing a song and then endlessly reprising it in different dramatic situations in order to deepen the drama and help establish the song in the minds of the audience, to use this approach. It is reliant on forms of reprises. Indeed, the end of Act II is almost a repeat of the end of Act I, and as we’ve seen it before, it must have a new context, one sufficient in its dramatic impact to justify the repetition. While “Sunday” is a remarkable piece, I’m not sure it helps the end of Act I, but I will say that it always gets an emotional rise out of me, even as my intellect shrugs.

The ornate details layered into the score require clear, controlled, dedicated execution on the part of cast and orchestra to get across. Your musicians and singers will need to really understand how pieces are constructed, where echoes or pre-statements of entire pieces are located and why. This show requires a runway, I think, a build up to rehearsals, where the score and even the script, also pointillist in its approach., receive at least some study and breakdown. As is true with nearly all Sondheim shows, the music will take longer to teach when compared to other people’s scores. Plan on it!

This is a show that should be done often. It is one of a rare breed, a thoughtful and even debatable profound musical. Few other musicals reach as hard as this one for meaning. Perhaps the best of Sondheim and Kurt Weill’s works, they would be alone in this class. Don’t get me wrong, every musical is about something. It’s just that a few works like this one, Lady In The Dark, Follies, Pacific Overtures, and Threepenny Opera, work hard to be about something truly profound and important to the human condition, and use methods to back up their reach. But this show isn’t done that often because the two lead roles are enormous and very difficult to play. Lapine, in directing the show, used two incredibly talented stars. He knew what he was doing.

There’s more. The art design for the set requires great artistry and ability to execute, even though there is really only one set. After all, it’s an imitation of sorts of Le Grande Jatte! More.  Act II, which was authored after the show started performances as a workshop at the Playwright’s Horizon Theatre, is simply not as developed, as Act I. It is far more straightforward. Act I is made of many small pieces, all held together by two threads – the painting and creation of Le Grande Jatte, and the deteriorating relationship between George and Dot. Act II is a continuation of sorts, but as everything that needed to be said about Seurat was said in Act I, it is a stretch, and it can feel like one. Personally, I like Marie helping the new George to find his way back to the truths of his Great Grandfather. That moves me as a family man and as an artist. I like the ending a lot, where George, reading Dot’s words in her little red language lesson book, finds George’s insights into art. It moves me. I’m just not sure any of Act II is necessary, and I am sure it is less necessary than Act I. It suffers from the same disease, in a way, that young George does, of regurgitating old art in revised but hardly new ways. The authors give us a slimmed down, modern version of Act I. Parts of their Act II are beautiful. Parts are moving. Parts are almost annoying, as is the endless quality to “Putting It Together,” and you’d be well-advised to keep this number moving, and perhaps even to edit out redundancies, ideas already expressed well by the piece. That said, this shows Act II, inferior in ways to it’s first Act, is still superior work when compared to many other highly-regarded musicals.

This is a daring, detailed, professional, highly creative effort. And it makes significant demands on its cast, most of whom (all of whom) double. (You can not double roles except for George and Dot/Marie, they must be doubled. But other roles could be spread out, if you want a truly large cast.) By the way, the actual painting can be viewed at the Chicago Art Institute. It’s astonishing, truly one of the great masterworks.

MY RATING: ** (An excellent show, well worth considering)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:
As I mentioned, this is a really complex score. Plan on a long rehearsal period for the music, significantly longer than with most shows. You’ll need a sensational Musical Director/pianist who is not only to play the score, but understand and communicate it. You’ll need to rehearse your orchestra until they’re reasonably tight. Your cast must harmonize particularly well.

George Seurat/George – Lyric Baritone with a belt and great strength and purity in his voice. Capable of great emotional range and expression while singing. Needs over two octaves clean in his range, top note Ab. A voice that’s alive with energy and interest, not a standard Musical Comedy leading man type, not romantic. More in the mind, intellectual.

Dot/Marie – Alto with a fantastic belt and fantastic control, over two octaves with D5 on top, so she’ll need a great head voice. Lyrics in this show are as important, easily, as the music. She must act the hell out of her songs as well as sing the hell out of them. It could be argued that, overall, this is the most demanding role in the show.

Jules/Greenberg – Baritone, clear, clean voice, decent belt.

Yvonne/Naomi – Alto, good voice, harmonize well.

George’s Mom/Blair – Strong voice, alto range. Mezzo soprano range. Must sing in character as an old, cranky lady.

Boatman/Charles – Baritone, gruff character actor, strong voice, decent belt.

Franz/Dennis – Baritone, good character actor.

Louis/Billy – Lyric baritone, good character actor.

Nurse/Harriet – Doesn’t need much range, alto.

Celeste # 1/Waitress – Large range, into soprano register, can be shrill while singing.

Celeste # 2/Elaine – Just under two octaves, into soprano range.

Soldier/Alex – Baritone, comic heroic.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:
There is no real dance in this show. No choreographer is listed for the original production. There is movement, but it’s the walking around and posing kind of movement. This is not to say that some numbers could not use some sense of choreography. “The Day Off”, in which George assumes the inner life of a dog, could benefit from movement that is carefully designed – but not overtly theatrical. More likely to benefit would be Dot’s sections where she dreams of being a Follies Girl, and kicks up a leg, or “Everybody Love Louis”, where she is deciding between two men and two life-styles, one well-fed, the other not so. In Act II, “Putting It Together” is endless, a parade of people talking at a party, and it may well need a choreographic helping hand. But again, it’s walking, posing, moving on.

Generally, this show is not going to be cast with dancers. The singing and acting requirements are by far paramount to any movement you might decide to integrate. This show is one of the farthest removed from being a “dance show” in all of the musical theater. Your director and actors should be able to come up with what little movement seems called for.

CASTING CONCERNS:
George Seurat/George – mid 20s-mid 40s. A sensational actor is needed. Character are tight, high-strung, “artistic types” but not “mad.” They long, have endless ambition, endless commitment to the work. And the actor must look something like Seurat. (He’ll need a beard.) We must understand why Dot would be drawn to him. He is a vast universe unto himself, petty at times, far too self-involved, but deep as an ocean and as relentless as a beam of light. Cast for voice first., and look, then acting, but if the performer can’t act with a broad and committed and fearless range, forget it. Musty be believable, painting.

Dot/Marie – 20-40 ish. Great comic chops, dynamic personality, able to play old-age convincingly. Headstrong, determined, sometimes tunnel-visioned. As Dot, interested in her looks, a bit vain, not well-educated, but determined to improve. Must be beautiful and shapely enough to be an artist’s model, to be someone George wants to watch forever. Cast for voice, then acting and appearance, but again, if she can’t really get the acting right, it won’t work.

Jules/Greenberg – Jules is 30s-40s, hypocritical, an artist but a dilettante, and filled with fears over change and competition. He is a small-minded man who perhaps means well, but cannot rise intellectually or morally to the place he desires to occupy in the world. Unfaithful to his wife and his art. As Greenberg, direct, the man in charge, not entirely effective but one gets the feeling he’s making a real effort. Cast for acting first, then singing, but must sing well enough.

Yvonne/Naomi – Yvonne is Jules’ wife, 30s-40s, more accepting than he is of change, but as competitive with both men and women. She has her own opinions of art and life that do not always agree with her husbands. Acting and voice about equal, must sing well enough.

George’s Mom/Blair – His mom is old, crotchety, and dislikes George, thinking him very strange and off-putting. She is demanding of others, but gives almost nothing. Blair is an older art aficionado in Act II, perhaps a bit snippy and critical. Acting first, then voice.

Boatman/Charles – The Boatman is a tough, uneducated, simplistic man who works with his hands and despises intellectuals, people he does not understand. Could be almost any age so long as he can run a boat. Acting, then singing.

Franz/Dennis – Must do German accent as Franz. 3-0s-40s. Works for Jules, married to Frieda, whom Jules has an affair with. Jules fears being discovered, so something about Franz is dangerous. He wants to have an affair with the nurse, in the park. As Dennis, an American science nerd, good-hearted, hard-working, who longs to be a part of a thing he doesn’t quite understand, art. He loves art, supports George, but is disappointed that George is not experimenting and growing. Smart enough to have worked for NASA. Acting first, then a look, and vocal.

Louis/Billy – Louis the Baker of Dot’s, well, not her dreams but her best-interests. Good at his job but not all that bright. Perhaps built like a man who samples his baked goods too often. Older than Dot, 35-50, a man of good will but not above jealousy aimed at Seurat. Voice, look, then acting.

Nurse/Harriet – Works for Seurat’s mother, calm and professional. 40s-50s. Voice, acting and a look all about equal in value.

Celeste # 1/Waitress – Young (20s) shop girl, animated, twittery, flirtatious, argumentative, not too bright. Must sing well, go for voice first, then a look and then acting.

Celeste # 2/Elaine – Young (20s or so), but able to play mid 30s as Elaine, George’s ex. In Act One, similar to Celeste I in temperament. As Elaine, she is surprisingly supportive and concerned for her ex-husband, and for his mother, Marie. An essentially bright, good person. Voice and acting must both be strong.

Soldier/Alex – A handsome Dragoon-like horndog, nervous though around the women. 20s-30s.

SETS:
It just can’t be emphasized enough. If you can’t get a designer who can reproduce Seurat’s masterpiece in three dimensions, using cut-out figures of some characters, a full-sized backdrop, perhaps in layers so it opens up for the audience – if you can’t really imitate what Seurat did, via mechanically blown-up images from digital files, or hand-drawn and created images, or however you do it, then you just can’t do this show. There are no optional approaches, the audience must see Le Grande Jatte created before their eyes, it is the magical image that sustains the entire production.

And then there is the Chromolume! A machine that makes art out of light. And it will need to be created, built, and actually work. This provides a fascinating creative outlet for the designer, though it does not necessarily need to be massive (better if it sort of is), and it might fall under props. Regardless, you’ll need to get a creative, artistic concept, and probably wok with someone who ally know electronics, and possibly even use a computer.

COSTUMES:
Act I, the costumes are entirely dictated by the period, and even more so by Seurat’s famed painting. The images of the people must be replicated in three dimensions, on living actors. No way around this. And this is an interesting challenge that almost demands all the costumes for Act I will need to be built. Your designer should live and breathe the painting, its colors and shapes and styles. The audience should be astonished when it all comes together, and the costumes are a major player in the creation of that effect. The hats must be right, as must shoes.

Act II, the characters are 1984 modern, at a gathering in a museum. Men is period suits and ties, women dressed to the nines for an art opening. But it is 1984, not today. And the costumes will need to be rather rapidly changed back at the end of the show, back to La Grande Jatte, so keep this in mind as you put both acts together.

PROPS:
Period parasols and umbrellas, the boatman’s oar and other objects he needs, George’s paint brush and sketch pad and anything else it’s decided he needs to paint, Dots make up at her make-up table, Louis’ pastries, perhaps a waffle-oven from the period, a stiff leash that stretches on its own as if a dog were there pulling at it, a nurses bag of pills and other needed commodities, a rifle, perhaps a sword, for the soldier. Lots of objects in Act I. In the Act II museum, clipboards, notebooks, perhaps art brochures, champagne glasses, waitress trays, but nothing too difficult. Unless you are building the Chromolume…

LIGHTING:
Lots of moods, and since this is a musical all about light and how it is used and perceived, it cannot be overstated how important this be done well and creatively. That said, this is also a Musical, with elements of Musical Comedy, and specific numbers and moments will need Musical Comedy lighting. You’ll need to work closely with the Director to conceptualize your approach to lighting this show. People will notice lighting in this show, as it is talked about. And the sort of light that falls on La Grande Jatte, at the time of year the great work was painted, needs to be somewhat recreated on stage. And you may need to design and help build the Chromolume…

MAKE-UP:
Wigs for Act I, as they must come off for Act II, and then be hurriedly put back on for the end of Act II.  Act I should be made-up to look period, especially the women, and you can use the famed painting as a guide.  Act II, make-up should be character correct for 1984.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):
Director, Musical Director, Set Designer, Lighting Designer, Make-Up Designer, George, Dot.

MY THOUGHTS:
A truly fascinating show, a great challenge to all involved, including your audience. This is not the sort of show a crowd can just sit back and enjoy, a lot is expected of them. As with nearly all of Sondheim’s works, the lyrics are dense and complex, and occasionally overwhelming. The script is also dense with ideas and characters. If your audience is more the “entertain me” type, if they don’t really come to the theater for adventure (and many audiences do not), this would not be a great show to do as compared to a more traditional musical.

I think this is a show for a mature theater company, rather than youngsters of novices. It is a very mature musical when compared to most others in subject matter, technical demands, and in difficulty of execution of the writing and composition. Much of it, perhaps most of it, is also exquisite, truly art in a way that most musicals, bent largely on and limited largely by commerce, rarely achieve. If you are ready for this show, if you can pull together its many demanding elements, what a wonderful show to put up!