Sunday In The Park With George

Sunday in the Park with George is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical was inspired by the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. Sunday is a complex work revolving around a fictionalized Seurat immersed in single-minded concentration while painting his masterpiece and the people in that picture.

The show opened Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, in July 1983 and ran for 25 performances.

Only the first act was performed and even that was still in development. The first act was fleshed out and work began on the second during that time and the complete two-act show was premièred during the last three performances. After seeing the show at Playwrights, composer Leonard Bernstein wrote to his friend Sondheim, calling the show “brilliant, deeply conceived, canny, magisterial and by far the most personal statement I’ve heard from you thus far. Bravo.” Kelsey Grammer (Young Man on the Bank and Soldier), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Celeste #2) and Christine Baranski (Clarisse) were in the company of the Off-Broadway production but did not continue with the show to Broadway.
The musical transferred to the Booth Theatre on Broadway on May 2, 1984. The second act was finalised and the show was “frozen” only a few days before the opening. It was directed by Lapine. Patinkin and Peters starred with scenic design by Tony Straiges, costume design by Patricia Zipprodt and Ann Hould-Ward, and lighting by Richard Nelson. Although it was considered a brilliant artistic achievement for Sondheim and enjoyed a healthy box office, Sunday received mixed reviews, and the show would ultimately lose money; it closed on October 13, 1985 after 604 performances.

The musical won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (one of only eight musicals to do so), two Tony Awards for design (10 nominations including one for Best Musical), numerous Drama Desk Awards, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Musical, the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Musical and the 2007 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production. It has enjoyed several major revivals, including the 2005-06 UK production first presented at the Menier Chocolate Factory and its subsequent 2008 Broadway transfer.

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