It takes a brave soul who is willing to take on a role so iconically identified with a Broadway legend. In the revival of Sunday in the Park With George, there are two- Jake Gyllenhaal, playing George, the role that Mandy Patinkin made famous, and Annaleigh Ashford, playing Dot and Dot's granddaughter Marie, roles that helped make Bernadette Peters a star.
I have seen Annaleigh Ashford in Kinky Boots, and her Tony Award-winning role in You Can't Take It With You (she was hilarious!), and she is the best thing about Showtime's Masters of Sex, playing Betty, the office manager who holds it all together amidst the chaos swirling around her. I adore her!
I knew she'd be fabulous as always, and she brings such a depth to the role of Dot, with her trademark humor and pathos. She is the definition of luminous in the role of Dot. As Marie, she gets to crack wise as the older woman who gets her chance to hold an audience for just a moment.
But it is Jake Gyllenhaal who was a surprise. As an actor, he has always chosen roles that stretch him- Brokeback Mountain, End of Watch, Nightcrawler and Donnie Darko spring to mind- and he does that again here. His George Seurat is an artist who is driven to create, and he plays him tightly coiled.
Sunday in the Park With George is a Sondheim musical, so the songs are no walk in the park to sing and Gyllenhaal has surprised everyone with his beautiful, powerful voice. (There is a video of him singing Finishing the Hat online that has everyone talking.)
The supporting cast is just as strong, including Robert Sean Leonard and Broadway vets Philip Boykin, Erin Davie, Ruthie Ann Miles and Brooks Ashmanskas.
The musical highlights of the show include the opeing number Sunday in the Park With George and its reprise at the end of Act II, and George and Dot's moving duet We Do Not Belong Together. Sunday in the Park With George will bring you joy and tears, it is one show that I will always remember. The run ends April 23, and it is worth buying a full-price ticket for this one. It is a must-see, and it is playing in the newly restored Hudson Theatre, which is so lush and lovely.
The website for Sunday in the Park With George is here.