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Sunday in the Park With George

Mad Cow Theatre inaugurates their new home with an ambitious ode to the artistic impulse

Photo: Tom Hurst, License: N/A

Tom Hurst

After intermission we spring forward a century, where Georges' great-grandson George (Horohoe again) is an '80s avant-garde electronic artist stuck in a laser-light rut. George suffers the same gossiping groupies as his ancestor, only now they have teased hair and shoulder pads instead of parasols and bustles. No matter what century it is, the artist's quandary remains the same: how to embrace change while staying true to his vision, without becoming lost in nostalgia for a past that never was.

Those are abstract issues for a musical to address, and though adored by Sondheim cultists, Sunday isn't among his most easily accessible works. Its minimalist plot lacks Sweeney Todd's narrative propulsion, and though the score is rhythmically dazzling and lyrically dizzying, it's also maddening; almost none of it is hummable, save for the snatches that evolved into the song "Children Will Listen" in Lapine and Sondheim's next collaboration, Into the Woods.

Thankfully, any difficulties in the material are overcome by Mad Cow's polished cast – particularly Horohoe and Laird – whom director Tim Williams masterfully manipulates like puzzle pieces in front of Cindy White's sliding panel set (gorgeously painted by Lisa Buck). As order coalesced from chaos in the first-act finale and a living facsimile of the famous painting formed before me, I knew Mad Cow had found the ideal image befitting their hopeful new beginning.

Sunday in the Park With George

through Oct. 28
Mad Cow Theatre
54 W. Church St.

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