The musical marked Stephen Sondheim's first collaboration with James Lapine and Sondheim's follow-up to his ill-received Merrily We Roll Along. The new musical earned mixed-to-favorable reviews, and critics embraced the lead performances from Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. In his New York Times review, Frank Rich wrote, "Look closely at that canvas -- or at Sunday in the Park itself -- and you'll get lost in a sea of floating dots. Stand back and you'll see that this evening's two theater artists, Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Lapine, have woven all those imaginative possibilities into a finished picture with a startling new glow."
The production received 10 Tony nominations but won just two, for lighting and scenic design; La Cage aux Folles was the big winner at the 1984 Tony Awards. In 1985 Sunday in the Park with George became the sixth musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.