Putting It Together
Putting It Together
By Steven Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musial Direction by Christopher Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL
If George Gershwin is a lecture in elementary arithmetic, Steven Sondheim is a pop quiz in differential calculus. Sondheim has cranked out over 20 major shows, many of them Broadway blockbusters complete with film adaptations, T-shirts and plush toys. He self-curated this particular collection; picking and choosing story songs to spin together a straight forward cycle of post-Calvinist romance. Man One (David Thome) is the Big Daddy Warbucks type: older, successful, and lecherous. He’s been married to Woman One (Kate O’Neil) since before the Big War; she’s resigned but still infatuated and willing to put up with more BS that you can shake a portfolio at. Number One flirts with Woman Two (Natalie Cordone) and brags about it to Man Two (Johnathan Fadoul). MT might not be as rich yet but he’s got more steam in his boiler and makes much more progress. Kevin Kelly fills in as Man Three; he says grace, embellishes the curtain speech and gets his action as Woman One’s house boy and everyone else’s weak willed conscience. Complicated? Not by Sondheim standards; the story is cardboard but the lyrics are Kryptonite.
So what songs did they sing? There’s material here from over a half dozen shows, yet nearly every song stumped me. My internal monologue ran: “Oh, yeah, that’s from…ah…’Company?’ ‘Merrily We Roll Along?’ ” and “That was in ‘Forum?’ Really?” Ok, so my memory is weak and the material is challenging, but a good challenge brings a greater reward. Act One runs us through the story above with highlights including “Lovely” (Ensemble), “Pretty Woman” (Thome and O’Neil) and “Unworthy of Your Love” (Cordone and Fadoul) and “Could I Leave You” (Kelly and O’Neil). Act Two conducted a post-game interview, everyone got to sing about themselves. Here “Ladies that Lunch” (O’Neil) and “Mary Me A Little” (Fadoul) jumped out, along with the ensemble “Getting Married Today.” The music was indeed difficult; it’s the only time I’ve ever heard Mr. Leavy express frustration with a show, and multi-instrumentalist Ned Wilkinson retreated to Switzerland for the show. But there were no missed notes, no missed cues and while this was a workout for everyone from the front office to the back row. It’s the sort of show that gives bragging rights, especially if you actually can identify the source of each song as they come up. You’d have me beat soundly and Sondheimly.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org