LuPone-McDonald Sunday in the Park Finds Its George

News   LuPone-McDonald Sunday in the Park Finds Its George Michael Cerveris, who stars in the upcoming Broadway debut of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, has joined the cast of another Sondheim musical.

Cerveris will star in the title role of the Ravinia Festival's production of Sunday in the Park with George this summer. Cerveris joins the previously announced Audra McDonald as Dot and Patti LuPone as Yvonne in the musical, which runs Sept. 3-5 at the Chicago theatre. The musical will mark a reunion for the actors, who co-starred in the Ravinia's production of Sondheim's Passion last summer.

Lonny Price, who helmed the Passion mounting, will direct here as well with Paul Gemignani conducting the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. The Ravinia is celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer, and Sunday in the Park with George is part of the theatre's Sondheim 75 series, a five year salute to the works of the famed composer, which will culminate in 2005 with Sondheim's 75th birthday. To date, the Ravinia has presented stagings of Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music and the aforementioned Passion.

In a statement Ravinia Festival President and CEO Welz Kauffman said, "One of the great songs of Sunday in the Park with George is 'Children and Art.' Ravinia has long been dedicated to both. How appropriate that in this centennial season of our beautiful park, we get to present an important work that seems to be custom-made for Ravinia’s picturesque setting. . . .Ravinia Festival’s music theater initiative investigates the symbiotic relationship between drama and music, and we selected Stephen Sondheim to be the centerpiece of this initiative because his works so successfully explore and exploit the color, weight and grandeur of the orchestra. I have been extremely gratified that lawn audiences have grown for our Sondheim concerts, because this shows that people recognize the musical value of works originally conceived as theatrical events.”

Michael Cerveris received a Tony Award nomination for his performance in the title role of The Who's Tommy, a part he also played for two years in Germany. Cerveris originated the role of architect Thomas Andrews in the Tony-winning musical Titanic and also appeared onstage in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Total Eclipse, Abingdon Square, Life Is a Dream and the Kennedy Center mounting of Passion. Currently, Cerveris can be seen in Second Stage's Wintertime, and he will play John Wilkes Booth in the upcoming Broadway bow of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins.

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George originally opened at Broadway's Booth Theatre on May 2, 1984, where it ran for 540 performances. Starring Mandy Patinkin as George and Bernadette Peters as Dot, the premiere Broadway company also included Barbara Bryne as the Old Lady, Brent Spiner as Franz, Charles Kimbrough as Jules and Dana Ivey as Yvonne. Sondheim's score — which was nominated for a Tony Award — features such titles as "Finishing the Hat," "Putting It Together," "Children and Art," "Move On" and "Beautiful." Sunday in the Park received ten Tony Award nominations, winning two—Scenic Designer (Tony Straiges) and Lighting Designer (Richard Nelson). It was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Sunday in the Park with George will play the Ravinia Festival Sept. 3 and 4 at 8 PM and Sept. 5 at 7 PM. The Ravinia theatre is located in Highland Park, IL; for more information, go to www.ravinia.org.

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