By Eric Preisler
After months of work and preparation, the College’s Orchestra and Lyric Theatre debuted the musical “Sunday in the Park with George” on Thursday, Nov. 2, on the Kendall Hall Main Stage.
The show was inspired by the painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, and was produced by lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, and director and playwright James Lapine. The play used art to give insight into lessons about life and society. The musical centered around the protagonist George, a fictionalized version of Seurat who immersed himself in his artistic work.
The show shined a light on struggling artists who use creativity to make the audience question current societal trends and people’s destinies.
While several of the cast members found the production challenging to perform, they nonetheless appreciated the complexities of the characters they portrayed.
“(Dot) constantly has to choose between what her heart wants and what is best for her,” said Brianna Carson, a sophomore music education major who played Dot, George’s mistress and muse. “This definitely was the biggest challenge of preparing for performances.”
Other cast members found it a challenge to mirror the character’s demeanor and way of speaking. Megan Hyjack, a junior graphic design major, had to modify how she spoke to reflect her German character, Freida.
“I’ve always been uneasy with accents, so that was my biggest challenge for the entire show,” Hyjack said. “Lots of rehearsal time, and listening to many German YouTube videos helped me get into character.”
Some cast members who were new to theater observed and learned from fellow cast members.
“One of the most difficult things of preparing was that I have never acted before,” said James Mikula, a freshman music education major who played Louis, Dot’s love interest. “I kind of had to watch other people and observe how they did things, and try to pick it up on my own.”
The cast also shared certain qualities they liked about the characters. Each character added dimensions to George’s story while also adding their own magic to the performance.
“I chose to audition for (Dot) because I admire her humor, intelligence and passion,” Carson said of her character. “Dot is such a lovable and fun character, but is also extremely complex.”
Even if they didn’t have the biggest role, cast members appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the performance, and their hard work paid off.
“I enjoy the fact that even though I have a minor role,” Mikula said of his character Louis, “my character helps push the plot along.”
McEwan thought the dissonant harmonies and rhythms of Sondheim’s music added to the drama onstage.
“Sondheim’s music is incredible –– there is absolutely nothing like playing in a Sondheim show,” McEwan said. “At first listen it may not all make sense, but the more you delve into it, everything comes together to create something beautiful.”
Members of both the cast and orchestra were pleased with the performance –– their preparations were well worth the positive reception at opening night.
“I feel as though the entire production came together seamlessly,” Carson said. “The whole cast came together to tell a beautiful story.”