Putting Sunday Together

Special Features   Putting Sunday Together
Director Sarna Lapine brings a fresh focus to the recently opened Sunday in the Park with George.
Jake Gyllenhaal Matthew Murphy

Less than two months after a rapturously received October concert at City Center, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize–winning musical Sunday in the Park with George was announced for a full-fledged Broadway revival, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford. Director Sarna Lapine, who helmed the initial concert, knew before the general public, of course—but not by much.

“After City Center I was going into planning my wedding and getting married,” she says over the phone, a few days before beginning rehearsals. “And I got an email about it the day after my wedding, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.”

She remained undaunted by the tight schedule—Sunday began previews at the newly refurbished Hudson Theatre February 11 before opening February 23, though it has opted not to compete in the Tony Awards—instead seeing the chance to bring the show to a wider audience for an extended period of time as a blessing. “The opportunity to spend time living with a piece that brings me and a lot of people so much joy and is such a beautiful meditation not just on art but on the future in a way—I felt almost a sense of calm,” she says.

A foundational show for many of today’s theatregoers because of its filmed PBS broadcast starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters as painter Georges Seurat and his lover, Sunday is, as Marie sings in Act 2, a moving look at “Children and Art.” And under Lapine’s direction, the production is more focused than ever on the text, bringing in just enough design to indicate place and period, while allowing that iconic original production to stand alone.

“In some ways, it’s kind of freeing because everyone has seen [the PBS] version,” she says. “It’s like any great classic—when you revive something that stands the test of time, you learn how best it serves the moment you’re in.”

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