Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Sunday at the Freud with Jason

February 05, 2007

Kelli O’Hara and Manoel Felciano
Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/LAT 2007
The problems with the current Reprise production of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George at the Freud playhouse are many and more often than not stem directly from the directorial vision, or lack thereof, of Jason Alexander. The production is so interminably slow that one wonders if it covers not only Sunday but a large part of Monday as well. At least it feels that way. Many of the cast and orchestra seem to be wandering listlessly throughout waiting for someone to point them in the right direction to no avail. Like some insidious sleep experiment, Alexander manages to keep the audience just barely awake for nearly three hours while events plod along.

Admittedly, my expectations were high, given the masterpiece of a score, and two up and coming Broadway names in the leads, Kelli O’Hara and Manoel Felciano. But my hopes were soon dashed. Or at least they were dashed in extreme slow motion. Both Felciano and O’Hara were quite good, but they had a lot to overcome. It often felt like they were singing without accompaniment since the orchestra was on a platform both above and at the back of the stage. Ideally placed so that absolutely no one could hear them, not even the cast. I kept thinking of how much better and more audible it would have been if the entire cast were playing their own instruments. Where is John Doyle when you need him? In fact, this production points out why Doyle is a genius. Here's a production that tries too hard to be too much without the resources to pull it off. Doyle's adaptations are inspired for dealing with this exact problem: his recent stagings serve both practical constraints and artistic considerations simultaneously. Here the cast seemed flummoxed by rinky-dink sets. Even with relative star power, this is one afternoon that may be better spent at home.

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