A visually striking, mesmerizing 'Sunday' at Zoetic Stage

MIAMI, Fla. -- With a practically bare, white playing space as a blank

canvas, Zoetic Stage’s Stuart Meltzer, his cast and crew have

fashioned a gorgeous work of art in the award-winning Miami

company’s current production of Stephen Sondheim and James

Lapine’s masterpiece “Sunday in the Park with George.”

The Pulitzer-Prize-winning musical, which also won the Olivier Award

for Best Musical, is playing the Carnival Studio Theater, located in

Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center through Feb. 12.

This production, the South Florida premiere of the musical, combines

striking stage pictures, stark lighting by Rebecca Montero, eye-

catching video projections by Greg Duffy and top-notch singing voices

from a talented cast of veterans and younger thespians who nail

Sondheim’s complex music. They are accompanied by a vibrant, live

orchestra.

Individually, cast members’ have rangy, expressive voices. But like the

painting technique at the center of the musical, the individual voices

beautifully coalesce, especially to sing the show’s best  song, the

stately “Sunday.”

On several Sundays during the late 1800s, French painter Georges

Seurat gathers at a park on an island in the Seine river to prepare his

notable painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

Sound effects of chirping birds, created by sound  designer Dan

Mayer, reinforce the serene atmosphere.

Seurat created the work, considered his most famous, in the form of a

painting technique called Pointillism. It involves small, separate dots of

color applied in patterns to form an image.

Seurat's finished product mostly shows members of the French

bourgeoisie relaxing on lazy, sunny Sundays on the island.

In the show, the painting’s subjects spring to life, commenting on

various subjects, including Seurat’s endless concentration

while he works to paint likenesses of the people.

Director Meltzer’s smart staging includes ensuring a separation exists

on-stage between the aloof Seurat (Cooper Grodin) and the rest of the

characters.

With his dark hair, beard, black costume, lowered eyebrows and sharp,

bossy voice, Grodin projects a brooding, even dictatorial air. He’s

commanding toward those he is painting, particularly his love interest,

Dot (Kimberly Doreen Burns). It’s clear his Seurat is deeply

committed to “Finishing the Hat.”

Grodin projects a dark and serious aura without making his character

unlikable. Like his painting, his performance is multi-colored, with

injections of charm and playfulness.

As Dot, Kimberly Doreen Burns invests her character with impatience

and exasperation at Seurat’s demands and neglect of her. But Burns

also communicates her character’s devotion to Seurat, at one point

seductively touching his body from the top to the bottom, as though

he’s a work of art himself.

The first act takes place in 1884, while the second fast forwards to a

museum in 1984 New York City.

In the latter, Georges’ great-grandson, named George, is a struggling

painter trying to preserve his ancestor’s painting. With him is Georges’

and Dot’s now-elderly daughter, Marie (also played by Burns, who

looks too young and acts too vibrant in the role).

The importance of art as a family legacy and the challenge of

producing art are among the timeless themes in Act II.

George is played by Grodin with a strong sense of commitment and a

sense he’s burdened by the hard task of producing art. Grodin makes it

clear there's a weight on this man's shoulders to preserve his great-

grandfather's legacy.

“Art isn’t easy,” are lyrics that are repeated in the song “Putting it

Together.” It’s sung by multiple characters, including George. The song,

like others in the musical, showcases Sondheim’s brilliant rhymes and

elegant lyrics.

Perhaps the lyrics that really draw us into the musical are the following:

“White. A blank page of canvas…So many possibilities.”

In Zoetic’s production, George sings the lyrics “So many possibilities,”

in a whisper, but with an ardent enthusiasm suggesting a treasure

chest’s worth of tempting choices.

Maybe art’s infinite possibilities make it so tempting to try to create.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: “Sunday in the Park with George.”

WHEN: Through Feb. 12.

WHERE: Carnival Studio Theater within the Adrienne Arsht Center For the Performing Arts of Miami-

Dade County. For tickets, call (877) 949-6722 or visit

http://www.arshtcenter.org/Tickets/Calendar/2016-2017-Season/Theater-Up-Close/Sunday-in-the-Park-with-George/