Small and intimate production...and it pays off!
ac | 02/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I know what you might be thinking: "ANOTHER Sondheim revue/concert/performance?" There are only so many "fresh" and "new" versions of "Send in the Clowns" and "Being Alive" a person can take, even if you have stars like Bernadette Peters singing them...
Don't write this production off though. First, it does have a skeleton of a plot (although Pinchot himself admits in the opening number that "there's not an awful lot") which gives some structure to the show and lends to the emotion of several pieces. Carol Burnett and George Hearn play the rich, older couple and Ruthie Henshall and John Barrowman play the younger couple, with Bronson Pinchot acting as narrator/butler/any additional character who is needed. The plot involves the older couple finding themselves falling out of love with each other and the younger couple in the midst of falling in love with each other. All perform admirably, although for me Carol Burnett was the standout. Her performance is alternately devestating, cuttingly sarcastic, and hilariously hysterical.
Thankfully, the production also avoids trying to include all of Sondheim's "hits." Although you will find a version of "Being Alive" (as a quintet!) and "Getting Married Today" (done only as Carol Burnett can do it), you will also find several of Sondheim's more obscure songs (at least for me). Songs such as "Bang!" and "Unworthy of Your Love" are perhaps less well-known, but brilliant all the same, especially as performed by Ruthie Henshall and John Barrowman. It was also interesting for me to see how each one of Sondheim's songs is taken out of the context of its original show and worked into a brand new setting. A song like "Hello Little Girl" takes on an entirely different meaning when sung by an old man as opposed to an actual wolf...
Overall, the show was just the thing after huge megahits like Wicked, Spring Awakening, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde, and in the Heights. An intimate night at the theatre, albeit viewed in your own home. You might not experience an exhilirating high after watching the show, but you'll leave with a renewed appreciation for Sondheim, his masterpieces, the theatre, and, ultimately, the different aspects of love."