Sunday in the Park with George on Broadway

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On a sunny Saturday in April, I was fortunate to see the hit Broadway musical, Sunday in the Park with George, performed at the newly refurbished Hudson Theater in New York City.

While I’ve seen a local production in Philadelphia, own the dvd with the original cast of Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, and have the cast soundtrack, I’ve never seen the production on Broadway.

Sunday in the Park with George is a musical with lyrics by the amazing Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.  The musical is inspired by the Neo-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat and his most famous pointillist painting, Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

The story revolves around, George, played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the current Broadway production, and Dot/Marie, played by Annaleigh Ashford. The first act involves a fictionalized George Seurat during the 2-year time period when he worked on his most famous painting and Dot, a female in the painting and George’s model muse.  Dot is in love with George while he is only in love with his art. As various characters from the painting come to life off the canvas, they spotlight the intense focus of the painter to create paintings that combine his love of art and science.  This inventive way of painting was not supported by the art establishment of the time.

The second act portrays the great-grandson of the late George Seurat, also played by Gyllenhaal, who himself is a struggling contemporary artist.  The young George, who has seen success with his sculptural light installations, now struggles with creating new works of art that will be financially supported and accepted into the art world.

 

Jake Gyllenhaal, who stars as both George’s was fabulous. One of the biggest treats to see was that Jake sketched, just as the real Georges Seurat would, during the entire first act.  Annaleigh Ashford, who played the role of Dot/Marie, was fantastic while the rest of the cast brought each character to life wonderfully.  The sparse set design allowed the beautiful costuming to take center stage.

playbill

As an undergrad student, I was introduced to Georges Seurat in an art history course and have been in love ever since.  As someone who wrote and illustrated a children’s book about the artist and his most famous painting, it was heartwarming to see how this artwork has inspired Sondheim, Lapine, Gyllenhaal and all the audience members who decided to spend a Saturday afternoon at the theater with Jake.

 

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