NORTH EAST — Cecil theatergoers can spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the park with French post-Impressionist painter Georges-Pierre Seurat.
“Sunday in the Park with George” opens Friday at the Milburn Stone Theatre and runs just one weekend. The musical – with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine – won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and two Tony Awards, in addition to numerous other wins and nominations. The thoughtful piece that revolves around a fictionalized Seurat is the final installment in the Milburn Stone’s “Season of Sondheim.”
The musical is told through two different artists – Georges Seurat and a modern artist also named George who creates an artistic reflection on Seurat’s famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Throughout the musical, both artists struggle with the sacrifices they must make to create.
Ben Bouton portrays both artists in the show, which is his first performance at the Milburn Stone. He recently moved to Maryland and started working at Elkton Middle School as the choir director and general music teacher in January.
The show is going on just a week after Lee Lewis left the theater as producing artistic director. John Desmone, who directed the summer Sondheim production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” is serving as production coordinator.
The costumes and lighting design are a major part of the production. Characters in the first act come together on stage to form Seurat’s painting, so their looks and props must be carefully matched with the masterpiece. To open the second act, the cast performs “It’s Hot Up Here,” which covers all the complaints one might have if trapped inside a painting forever. (“I am completely out of proportion,” one character sings. Another complains, “This tree is blocking my view.”)
Bringing everything together is the lighting, designed by Matthew Kator, and special projections, designed by Bob Denton. Throughout the show, lighting and projections display how far along Seurat is in his painting. And in the second act, the special effects are responsible for creating the modern art of the younger George.
Because of these technical needs, the show is one of Sondheim’s that is not performed as often. However, it is the favorite of actress Lauren-Spencer Harris. After participating in a half dozen other Sondheim show over the past year, she said she’s glad to finish up with her favorite.
Spencer-Harris portrays Dot, Seurat’s lover, in the musical. She said the show will speak to those who are passionate about the arts.
“We need art in our communities and our lives to keep us stimulated. It’s something we can all connect around,” Spencer-Harris said.
“Sunday in the Park with George” will run this weekend. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. The show is recommended for ages 13 and up. Tickets can be purchased at www.milburnstone.com or at the door.