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Previews begin at the Shaw Festival for Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George

Media Release #5

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, April 2, 2009 … The Shaw Festival celebrates the start of its 48th season this week with preview performances of Stephen Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George at the Royal George Theatre.

Inspired by maverick pointillist painter Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884“, Sunday in the Park with George is a compelling story about love, art, inspiration and community revolving around Seurat (Steven Sutcliffe) during the creation of his now celebrated masterpiece and his fictionalized great-grandson George, a struggling installation artist and inventor.  A hundred years later, while visiting La Grande Jatte, the ghosts of the past provide creative encouragement and a connection to the Seurat legacy for his descendant George.

Considered Stephen Sondheim’s most personal musical because it looks at the life of the artist, Sunday in the Park with George has been called “an audacious, haunting and, in its own intensely personal way, touching work” by the New York Times.  Sondheim, with writer James Lapine, wrote the musical after his own artistic struggles and his announcement that he was leaving musical theatre to write mystery novels.  Lapine coaxed him back with the Seurat painting and the idea of imagining the life of an artist who was at times misunderstood, but who also loved to create.

As Seurat brings his canvas to life on stage, so too does he give voice to the figures in the frame.  Meet the characters within the painting such as the boatman (Mark Uhre), the man sitting in top hat and cane (Kyle Blair), the old woman under a parasol (Sharry Flett) and the gentleman (Jay Turvey) who accompanies Dot (Julie Martell), the woman in the hat who is also Georges’ mistress and muse.  Hear about their lives and loves and their impressions of this unconventional painter.  The cast also includes Kawa Ada, Neil Barclay, Alix Boyd, Celeste Brillon, Saccha Dennis, Patty Jamison, Melanie Janzen, Gabrielle Jones, Anthony Malarky, Melanie Phillipson, Jacqueline Thair, Robin Evan Willis and Kelly Wong.

Sunday in the Park with George is directed by award-winning director Alisa Palmer, with musical direction by Paul Sportelli, choreography by Bill Coleman, set and costume design by Judith Bowden, lighting design by Alan Brodie and associate Conductor/pianist Ryan deSouza. The stage management team includes Stage Manager Meredith Macdonald, Assistant Stage Manager Annie McWhinnie and Apprentice Stage Manager Erin Finn.

Sunday in the Park with George begins preview performances Tuesday, April 1; opens Friday, May 22; and plays in repertory until Sunday, November 1. Sunday in the Park with George is sponsored by TD-Canada Trust Music.

Sunday in the Park with George

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine

Originally produced on Broadway by The Shubert Organization and Emanuel Azenberg by arrangement with the Playwrights Horizon, Inc., New York City, which produced the original production of Sunday in the Park with George in 1983.


Please visit our website at news.shawfest.com for other Shaw Festival media releases.

For more information, or to download images from our image bank to accompany this release, members of the media may contact:

Odette Yazbeck
Public Relations Director
905-468-2153 or
1-800-657-1106 ext. 222

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