Each of the ten plays and musicals I saw in New York touched me in various ways and none, other than A Bronx Tale, disappointed me, but the one that stands in the forefront of my mind as the most personally influential has to be Sunday In The Park With George, or as my friends and I joke, Sunday in the Park With Jake Gyllenhaal.
A meditation on love, loss, disappointment, and the role of art in society, Sunday in the Park With George details the life and times of George Seurat, the painter who virtually invented pointillism and created a new, modern kind of impressionism, focusing on the importance of virtually every detail in a painting as it relates to the whole.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays the moody painter George Seurat and Annaleigh Ashford backs him up as his love interest Dot, someone with whom he is ill-suited, but who captures his attention nonetheless. Jake deftly commands our attention, but I have to say that Annaleigh deftly backs him up, proving a formidable match. She loves George, but doesn’t love the artistic life and eventually a baker named Louis offers her a life of what seems to be a life of quiet contentment. Nevertheless, to the end of her life, she pines for the kind of vibrancy and artistic excitement that George Seurat offers her, and she wonders if she’s compromised herself beyond repair.
After Dot, George seems emotionally crippled. Through it all, Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics soar, painting a picture of people diminished without love in their life. His work emphasizes the compromises one makes to lead an artistic life, lessons I’m still learning. My only sadness: there probably won’t be a soundtrack to this revival, but if you happen to be in the New York area before April 23rd, catch this five star revival.