August 9, 2022

Theater Review
By Hoo Sook Hwang
Asian American Press

The cast of the Guthrie Theater’s production of Sunday in the Park with George, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, directed by Joseph Haj. Scenic design by Jan Chambers, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Jane Cox, projection design by Caite Hevner. June 17 – August 20, 2017 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. (Photo by T Charles Erickson)

MINNEAPOLIS (June 24, 2017) — Arts comes to life in “Sunday in the Park with George” at the Guthrie Theater through Aug. 20, 2017.

An artist who creates images by painting infinite dots starts with a blank canvas until his work eventually reveals complex images of people going about their daily Sunday routines. The character and artist known as George uses a fixed pallet of colors, when combined with light, make paintings come to life, human life.

The first scene revealed a gigantic blank and stark white frame hungering to be painted on. This became apparent as the play continued. Similar to humans, born innocent and ready to be molded, George’s artistic process reveals how much work, passion, empathy, love and nurturing that goes into something that one loves.

There is a Latin phrase, “tabula rasa,” which means blank slate. Tabula rasa implies that we come into the world blank and our experiences and perceptions shape our human development. Much like the character George, his experiences and perceptions also shape the paintings that he creates.

Immediately walking into the theater, Jan Chambers (scenic designer), Catie Hevner (projection designer), Toni-Leslie James (costume designer) and Jane Cox (Lighting designer) created a stunning image to view, which was later transformed into many back drops using, technology, design, costumes and lighting. The combined efforts of the Creative Team were truly captivating. Hats off to Toni-Leslie James (costume designer) who created costumes, each uniquely designed to capture the time, story and personality of each character. Dot, played by Erin Mackey’s dress was a breathtaking visual experience in and of itself.

Throughout the play, the artist’s story unfolds. Jules, played by Paul Nakauchi and Blair Daniels, played by Christine Toy Johnson bring to life dramatically read lines and skilled acting. The two characters reveal what happens when jealousy holds people hostage. I was pleased to see both Christine Toy Johnson and Paul Nakauchi on stage again, because they are always able to capture the most important nuances of each character. Johnson and Nakauchi are polished and provocative.

In addition, hats off to Justin Lee Miller who played the grumpy boatman and T. Michael Rambo! Miller’s performance was flawless and Rambo’s acting was precise and full of passion. Natalie Tran who played Louise, was a natural hit. Whether its plays, musicals or television, Tran’s multi-talented acting is always outstanding.

The cast of the Guthrie Theater’s production of Sunday in the Park with George, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, directed by Joseph Haj. Scenic design by Jan Chambers, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Jane Cox, projection design by Caite Hevner. June 17 – August 20, 2017 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. (Photo by T Charles Erickson)

While I’ve highlighted actors/actresses who I thought were noteworthy performers in this particular play, you will have to see the Sunday in the Park with George to learn about the story of George for yourself. It’s a great play to discover great performers and determine for yourself, which actor/actress speaks to you?

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