The combination of the genius of Stephen Sondheim and the overall theatrical expertise of The Repertory Theater of St. Louis have produced a once-in-a-lifetime production, “Sunday in the Park with George.” It is a magnificent success at every level and a striking tribute to the expertise of The Rep and its entire staff. Indeed, “Sunday” is a most challenging work to produce and The Rep has mastered it.
Central to the show’s success is Ron Bohmer in the lead role of George Seurat, an underappreciated artist in Paris in 1884 who died at the age of 31 and never sold a painting in his career. However, his pinpoint technique of establishing pigments and layout that the human eye could “translate” from the standpoints of color, textures and interpretation, and his groundbreaking vision as an impressionist, are legendary today.
Erin Davie is charming and winsome is the role of Seurat’s paramour, Dot, and in Act II, the role of Marie, Seurat’s great-grandmother. At this point, it can become self-defeating to explain too much about how this story takes place in Act I in 1884 and Act II in 1984. Suffice it to say the book of this searching and touching musical reveals itself through both Acts, the first when Seurat is trying to establish his career in France, and the second when his Great-Grandson is trying to balance financing a series of laser projects that reflect Seurat’s original work with his desire to continue the family’s artistic heritage.
The fact that The Rep does this show on a thrust stage is a demanding prospect, and they conquer the question through set design by Adrian W. Jones that magnifies, expands and gives great depth to every aspect of the production. Even the costumes of this show are works of art themselves. All were handmade by The Rep’s costume department and designer Alejo Vietti.
The supporting cast is exceptional, especially Zoe Vonder Haar, Kari Ely and Whit Reichert. “Sunday” at The Rep is a show to see on any day. It has dimension, depth and sentiments of the soul. It’s a moving, magnificent show that makes an indelible impression. It soars with compassion and heart. The end of Act I is one of the most dynamic and touching moments ever on The Rep’s main stage.
“Sunday in the Park with George” runs at The Rep through January 29. It’s a poignant treatment of questions about life, purpose, devotion to our passions, relationships and as one number reflects, children and art. This is Stephen Sondheim as his best, as if he ever wasn’t. And at the end of the show, we realize it also is about us and our lives, and the beauty we have a chance to create, if we will only pick up the palette.