SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, directed by Sue Miner, with Jay Turvey, Rebecca Benson, Jayne Lewis, Shawn Wright and Mary Pitt. Presented by Equity Showcase Theatre and George Brown Theatre School at the Showcase (651 Dufferin). Runs to February 27, Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday matinee 2 pm. $16-$20. 533-9231. Rating: NNN
For Sunday In The Park With George, Stephen Sondheim composed a score that reflects the pointillist style of its key figure, painter Georges Seurat. Flicks of melody and few words create the world of the temperamentally cool painter and Dot, his mistress, who yearns for a warmer relationship. Yet there's harmony on several levels by play's end, set nearly a century later.
The Equity Showcase/George Brown Theatre School production captures the sharpness of the piece, its moods and wit, and director Sue Miner and designer Yvonne Sauriol have come up with some ingenious staging to bring both La Grande Jatte, Seurat's most famous painting, and the island's Sunday holidayers to life. Too bad James Lapine's script - notably the obvious send-up of a contemporary artist's need to schmooze potential backers - weakens the show.
Though music director John Tute sometimes drowns out the cast, the largely student company handles the music's tricky rhythms and clever rhyming lyrics with clarity.
As Dot, Rebecca Benson is sometimes a more convincing actor than singer, though she plays well against the George of Equity performer Jay Turvey, who captures Seurat's internalized conflicts in the first act but misses his great-grandson's emptiness and sadness near the show's end. In two cameo roles, Jayne Lewis gives everyone lessons in incisive characterization.