Inspired by George Seurat’s famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, acclaimed Sondheim repertory company, Watch This, presents Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical masterpiece, Sunday in the Park with George for limited seasons at three Victorian venues in 2019.
Paris 1884: George Seurat strives to transform the way we see. While he sketches in a park, preoccupied with composition, balance, light and harmony, his subjects are busy wrestling with life in a changing world – in particular, his muse and mistress, Dot, who feels both alive and invisible within his gaze.
A century on, another visual artist – also named George – faces a similar dilemma as he attempts to forge a new direction amidst the pressure of high-end commissions and the merciless glare of New York critics. Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics) and James Lapine (book) bring the past into the present tense, with poignant and painful truths about life, love, the creation of art and the struggle to be seen.
Directed by Dean Drieberg & Sonya Suares, with musical direction by Dominic Woodhead and choreography by Rhys Velasquez, Sunday in the Park with George stars Nick Simpson-Deeks (Assassins, Pacific Overtures, Company) as George, Vidya Makan (Merrily We Roll Along) as Dot and Jackie Rees (A Little Night Music) as George’s Mother, with more cast to be announced soon.
“I’m very visual as a Director – I’ll actually also be designing the set for this one – so the opportunity to get inside the head of a visual artists and innovator like George Seurat is really exciting,” says co-director Dean Drieberg. “The tricky part will be making it feel new for our audiences. Impressionism is not new to us but for Seurat, he was in uncharted territory, taking a pretty bold risk.”
Co-director Sonya Suares adds “I’m thrilled to be working with Dean on this one as we have a very similar sensibility and complementary skill-set. So rehearsals should be a blast! Also super excited to be opening this production at Whitehorse Centre after our very successful first collaboration [A Little Night Music] earlier this year.”
Sunday in the Park with George won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, two Tony Awards for design (and a nomination for Best Musical), numerous Drama Desk Awards, the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Musical and the 2007 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production. The musical has enjoyed many revivals throughout America, the UK and Australia.
“The gift of this production is its quiet insistence that looking is the art by which people shape their lives.” – New York Times
Sunday in the Park with George opens at the Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading (9 & 10 August), before playing the Geelong Performing Arts Centre (15 – 17 August) and the Lawler Theatre – Southbank Theatre (21 – 24 August 2019). For more information, visit: www.watchthis.net.au for details.
Image: Vidya Makan and Nick Simpson-Deeks star in Sunday in the Park with George – photo by Jodie Hutchinson