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‘Sunday in the Park with George’ Revival Announces Cast Recording

April 20th, 2017 Comments off
Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford in 'Sunday in the Park with George.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford in ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The producers of the hit Broadway revival of New York City Center’s productionSunday in the Park with George starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford, announced today that the show will live on past its critically acclaimed, sold-out limited engagement, with a cast album to be released this summer by Warner Music Group.

The New York Times’ Ben Brantley declared this to be “one of those shows that seems destined to be forever spoken of with misty-eyed bragging rights by anyone who sees it.” Now this cast recording will allow those who couldn’t see it live to hear Gyllenhaal in his Broadway musical debut, and experience this beloved Sondheim score in a new way.

The cast recording, produced and mixed by Bart Migal, will include the entire Broadway company and will be recorded later this month.

The producers also announced today that Sunday in the Park with George has recouped its entire investment in just 56 performances, making it the first show of the 2016-2017 season to do so.

The Sarna Lapine-directed production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George began previews on February 11 and officially re-opened the historic Hudson Theatre(139-141 West 44th Street) on February 23, 2017.  The show was filmed at the matinee performance on April 19 for the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library’s Theatre on Tape and Film Archive and ends its sold-out, critically acclaimed limited run this Sunday, April 23.

“To have a beloved Sondheim / Lapine musical be the one that re-opens the historic Hudson Theatre has been an absolute triumph,” said Adam Speers, Executive Producer for Ambassador Theatre Group. “We’re so proud that audiences have embraced it as they have and beyond thrilled that Jake, Annaleigh and the rest of the cast’s brilliant performances will be preserved on a cast recording.”

Illuminating a Blank Page: ‘Sunday in the Park with George’

February 24th, 2017 Comments off
The cast of 'Sunday in the Park with George.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

“White. A blank page or canvas. The challenge: bring order to the whole.”

These words embody the gauntlet thrown down before generations of artists. The opening line of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical, Sunday in the Park with George, resonates deeply in the Broadway revival that christens the historic re-opening of the Hudson Theatre.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as George (both in Act One’s late 19th century setting and as George’s namesake great-grandson in Act Two, set in an American art museum in 1984) and Annaleigh Ashford as his muse Dot, and later, as George’s maternal grandmother, Marie, Sunday in the Park with George remains one of writing team’s most iconic works. More than 30 years since it debuted at Playwrights Horizons and countless productions worldwide, the musical strikes a resonating chord—both in terms of its exploration of the creative (and often obsessive) process of making art, as well as the personal relationships that can crumble in its wake.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford in 'Sunday in the Park with George.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford in ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Inspired by George Seurat’s painting, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” Sondheim used the artist’s technique, later named Pointillism, as a musical springboard to create the score. It is filled with staccato punctuations (further accentuated by Gyllenhaal’s delivery) and contrasting lush melodies, which encapsulates the sum on the parts. Michael Starobin’s orchestrations and music direction by Chris Fenwick beautifully capture Sondheim’s work as delivered by a stellar cast of Broadway veterans.

Seurat died at the age of 31 and, at least according to the script, never sold a painting in his lifetime. The tragedy of his artistic tenacity and a world not quite ready to accept his creative gifts is the stuff that great musicals are forged from and it’s no surprise that Sunday in the Park with George won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Director Sarna Lapine mines the material for its wealth of treasures, shedding new light and nuance.

There is a purposefully broken current of electricity between George and Dot, interrupted by his nearly manic artistic pursuits. Gyllenhaal leans heavily into this neurosis, but unlike so many film actors that have stumbled onstage before him, he embodies George’s physical precision all the way through the tip of his imaginary paintbrush. Ashford approaches Dot with flirty mischief. Beautiful as she is, she is able to convince us that she’s less than society’s norms, uneducated and increasingly curvy as she carries George’s bastard child. A Tony Award winner for You Can’t Take it With You and nominee for Kinky Boots, Ashford is adept at interpreting lyrics and Sondheim gives her a full sandbox to play in. Gyllenhaal, too, is not afraid to approach the score with riveting intensity.

Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sunday in the Park with George.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Casting directors Carrie Gardner and Stephen Kopel have assembled a top-notch ensemble to support Gyllenhaal and Ashford, including Penny Fuller as George’s mother (Old Lady) in Act One and Blair, an art critic, in Act 2; and Robert Sean Leonard as Jules, a successful artist in Act One, and Bob Greenberg, a museum director in Act 2. Other recognizable faces include Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I, Here Lies Love), Brooks Ashmanskas (Bullets Over Broadway) and Jenni Barber (Wicked, Annie).

Act 2, which has often been problematic in past productions, jumps to 1984, where George (Dot’s great-grandson) is struggling with creative blocks after years of success with a series of Chromolume art installations (one of which is brilliantly conceived by lighting designer Ken Billington for a show-stopping moment). Ashford, now in a wheelchair as the aging Marie, captivates with a Charleston drawl that imbues her reflective “Children and Art” with a bluesy, languid warmth that will bring tears to your eyes.

This production of Sunday in the Park with George found footing last year as part of New York City Center’s Encores! series. Its physical presence still feels lean, with a simple set by Beowulf Boritt and projections designed by Tal Yarden. Costume designer Clint Ramos opts for a plain Pantone palette and one wishes Seurat himself could have gotten his hands on the designs to offer as much depth as the production warrants.

For anyone that has questioned the value of his or her creative expression, Sunday in the Park with George will hit a raw nerve. Like Seurat’s masterful paintings, the musical’s beauty is in its ever-changing perspective. “Order. Design. Tension. Balance. Harmony,” says George before the show’s resounding end. On the page, these words appear so simple. But it takes masters like Sondheim and Lapine to bring them to life.

Sunday in the Park with George
Hudson Theatre
139-141 West 44th Street, NYC
Through April 23

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.

Broadway’s Three to See

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

Broadway and beyond is delivering the goods this month, with star turns from Glenn Close and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as the latest musical from legendary composer John Kander. Here are our picks of what not to miss.

Glenn Close in 'Sunset Boulevard.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Glenn Close in ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Sunset Boulevard
Glenn Close returns to Broadway in her Tony Award-winning role as the wide-eyed Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic Sunset Boulevard. John Napier’s towering sets for the original production have been stripped down to make room for the largest Broadway orchestra in 80 years.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screenwriter, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.

Ben Brantley described Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond as “One of the great performances of this century.”

Sunset Boulevard
Palace Theatre
1564 Broadway
Through June 25

The cast of 'Kid Victory.' (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of ‘Kid Victory.’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Kid Victory
Kid Victory, a haunting new musical, is the latest collaboration from the creators of Vineyard Theatre’s The Landing, composer John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys) and playwright Greg Pierce (Slowgirl, Her Requiem).

Seventeen-year-old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance. Directed by Liesl Tommy (Broadway’s Eclipse, recipient of The Vineyard’s Susan Stroman Directing Award) and choreographed by Christopher Windom (Pippin, Drama League Fellow Assistant Director) in their Vineyard debuts.

Kid Victory
Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street
Opening night: February 22

 

sunday in the park with george
Sunday in the Park with George

One of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s most celebrated musicals returns (again) for a limited run starring Jake Gyllenhaal making his Broadway debut, and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots, Wicked). With a two-act structure that loosely follows the life of Impressionist painter George Seurat, Sunday in the Park with George has become a cult favorite since its original 1983 Off Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons. Past revivals have included the 2008 transfer of Menier Chocolate Factory’s production.

This production is based on the 2016 City Center concert and has a limited run through April 23.

Sunday in the Park with George
Hudson Theatre
139-141 West 44th Street
Opening night: February 23

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.

 

 

‘Sunday in the Park with George’ Announces Full Cast

January 24th, 2017 Comments off

sunday in the park with george

Ambassador Theatre Group (Mark Cornell, CEO; Adam Speers, Executive Producer) has announced the complete casting and creative team for the Broadway revival of New York City Center’s production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George.

Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece follows painter Georges Seurat (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Consumed by his need to “finish the hat,” Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists, and neglects his lover Dot (Annaleigh Ashford), not realizing that his actions will reverberate over the next 100 years.

Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (in his Broadway musical debut) and Tony Award winner  Annaleigh Ashford will be joined by Tony Award nominee Brooks Ashmanskas, Jenni Barber,Tony Award nominee Phillip Boykin, Mattea Marie Conforti, Erin Davie, Claybourne Elder, Tony Award nominee Penny Fuller,Jordan Gelber, Tony Award winner Robert Sean Leonard, Liz McCartney, Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Jennifer Sanchez, David Turner, Max Chernin, MaryAnn Hu, Tony Award nominee Michael McElroy, Jaime Rosenstein, Julie Foldesi, and Andrew Kober.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)

As previously announced, Sunday in the Park with George will re-open the historic Hudson Theatre (139-141 West 44th Street) on Broadway this winter for a strictly limited 10-week engagement.  Directed by Sarna Lapine, performances are set to begin Saturday, February 11, 2017, with an opening scheduled for February 23 and performances through April 23.

The creative team for Sunday in the Park with George features set design by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt, projection design byTal Yarden, costume design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, lighting design by Tony Award winner Ken Billington, sound design by Tony Award nominee Kai Harada, co-projection design by Christopher Ash, hair and wig design by Cookie Jordan, make-up design by Joe Dulude II, music coordination by Tony Honor recipient Seymour Red Press, orchestrations by 2-time Tony Award winner Michael Starobin, production supervision by Tony honor recipient Peter Lawrence, casting by Carrie Gardner/Stephen Kopel, technical supervision by Hudson Theatrical Associates, general management by 101 Productions, Ltd., musical staging by Ann Yee, and music direction by Chris Fenwick.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.TheHudsonBroadway.com, by calling 855-801-5876, or in person at the Hudson Theatre Box Office.

 

‘Sunday in the Park with George’ Returns to Broadway… Again

December 13th, 2016 Comments off

sunday in the park with george

Ambassador Theatre Group (Mark Cornell, CEO; Adam Speers, Executive Producer) has announced that the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George, starring Academy Award nominee Jake

Gyllenhaal and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford will re-open the historic Hudson Theatre (139-141 West 44th Street) on Broadway this winter for a strictly limited 10-week engagement. Performances are set to begin Saturday, February 11, 2017, ahead of a Thursday, February 23 Opening Night, and will play through Sunday, April 23.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)

“We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming audiences back to the historic Hudson Theater for the first time in almost 50 years with this musical classic,” said Mark Cornell, Ambassador Theatre Group’s Chief Executive Officer. “Direct from its acclaimed New York City Center production, Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece Sunday in the Park with George, starring Jake and Annaleigh, is the perfect inaugural offering for this Broadway treasure box. To be re-opening our most intimate of New York venues with this special work makes me excited about the future of the Hudson.”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford, who both earned unanimous raves for their portrayals, will return to their roles, and will mark the second major Broadway revival of Sondheim and Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical. Reviewing the critically acclaimed New York City Center concert production of Sunday in the Park with George, Ben Brantley of the New York Times proclaimed it as “Joyous! This is one of those shows that seems destined to be forever spoken of with misty-eyed bragging rights by anyone who sees it.”

Annaleigh Ashford (Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)

Annaleigh Ashford (Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)

“Opening the historic Hudson Theatre with this magnificent show, for me, is about the possibilities – a blank page, the white canvas, a new era for a theater and the great work to come,” said Jeanine Tesori, New York City Center Artistic Advisor and producer of the NYCC concert production.  “Together, Jake and Annaleigh broke my heart wide open. I am so happy we will be able to see them on stage again.”

Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece follows painter Georges Seurat (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Consumed by his need to “finish the hat,” Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists, and neglects his lover Dot (Annaleigh Ashford), not realizing that his actions will reverberate over the next 100 years.

With music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, Sunday in the Park with George is directed by Sarna Lapine. Sunday in the Park with George is produced on Broadway by Adam Speers for Ambassador Theatre Group, New York City Center, Jeanine Tesori, and Riva Marker.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.thehudsonbroadway.com or by calling 855-801-5876.

 

Bringing the Curtain Down on Act One

December 28th, 2012 Comments off

Photo by Lance Bellers

Is there anything better than a perfectly written and performed Act One closing number — that thrilling high that sends you off to intermission in a euphoric state of satisfaction mixed with anticipation?

Well, I don’t know if I can provide that kind of tingle (at least without buying you dinner first), but welcome to The Broadway Blog’s Act One closer.  After two years of planning and viewing and writing and hair pulling and tears and truly spectacular theater, today is my last day as editor of this blog. The bad news: I won’t be sharing my love of theater with you every day. The good news: I’m taking a step back so I can devote myself more fully to my own theater writing.

But never fear, this isn’t one of those new fangled, intermissionless shows designed for the ADD-generation; The Broadway Blog will return in the New Year for Act Two! And leading the kick-lines will be the deliciously talented Matthew Wexler as your new editor-in-chief.  I’ll still be around, too, adding my two cents as an ongoing contributor. In fact, I like to think this is just the fulfillment of the mission statement I shared on the first day: to capture that sense of family in the theater world with celebratory, fizzy, fun coverage. Just think of this as an expansion of our family and pull up another chair.

Before I “go” I want to say a big thank you to Robert & Don at Passport Magazine for supporting this crazy endeavor and being my biggest cheerleaders. Most importantly, thank you to my regular readers; it has been a pleasure raising a post-show Manhattan (top shelf, up and extra cherry, please) with you. Here’s to more unforgettable nights at the theater.

Now, on to the Act One closing numbers; I couldn’t choose just one favorite…

Read more…