Creative Cauldron Marry Me a LittleBy David Siegel • Oct 8th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Creative Cauldron: (Info) (Web)
Artspace, Falls Church, VA
Through October 27th
$25/$22 Seniors, Students
Reviewed October 6th, 2013
Like the image of snow falling on cedars, there is a musically ephemeral “chapbook” production of Marry Me A Little; with songs by Stephen Sondheim ready for a rare appearance. The production is mostly built upon songs that Sondheim wrote but did not make the final cuts of his musicals. What could have been just another cabaret review of Sondheim works, words and melodies, is an evening with texture and a believable story arc, under the direction of Matt Conner.
There is no dialogue in the little over one-hour, no intermission production. The audience follows the twists and turns of the young who crave love, find love and then all too sadly lose love through the “on-the-mark” voices of local veteran Dani Stoller and newcomer to the DC area, Lou Steele and the wonderfully soft-pedaled foot and nimble fingers of pianist Amy Conley.
For Sondheim aficionados and those who have an interest in musical theater, the production is like a live version of Sondheim’s recent memoirs, “Finishing the Hat” and “Look, I Made a Hat.” In the two books, Sondheim provided not only background about his published songs and scores , but also songs that were cut and why. In the show, Marry Me a Little as conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene in 1980, we get to hear about a dozen of the cut songs.
The show is staged in a pre-Facebook time by Conner; a time unlike the current world of social media, instantaneous connections, and lots of gadgets. It was a time, now distant, when unattached people had fewer diversions and distractions on a dateless Saturday night. As one of the Sondheim lyrics goes, it was a time when Saturday night could mean staying home to read the Sunday NY Times.
Conner is a composer in his own right, with his musicals performed at Arlington’s Signature including: Nevermore, The Hollow, Partial Eclipse and soon Crossing. He has previously directed Creative Cauldron’s productions of Nevermore (2011) and Women of the Blues (2012).
Director Conner has his two person cast orbit around each other effectively adding some visual action to the production. He has them deliver often in parallel responding duets. Stoller is effective at providing acting chops to her performance showing off emotional reactions to situations depicted by the song lyrics. Steele is a more reserved presence.
First, what greets the audience is a graphic rendition of apartment living by Margie Jervis accomplished with squares of decorative carpet, pieces of furniture, clothing strewn about, several doors and a piano. The intricacy of the Sondheim’s score drips through and over the artifacts thanks to the mood setting lighting of Ken Willis. With the intimacy of the space, the audience becomes like a viewer using Skype; things are that close.
While the song Marry Me A Little is widely known, most of the other fifteen songs are rarer except to one deeply immersed in Sondheim.
The score of the production includes, in order, such songs as: “Saturday Night” (from Saturday Night), “Two Fairy Tales” (cut from A Little Night Music), “Can That Boy Foxtrot!” (cut from Follies), “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (cut from Follies), “Bang!” (cut from A Little Night Music),”The Girls of Summer” (from The Girls of Summer), “Uptown, Downtown” (cut from Follies), “So Many People” (from Saturday Night) “Your Eyes Are Blue” (cut from A Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Forum), “A Moment With You” (from Saturday Night), “There Won’t Be Trumpets (cut from Anyone Can Whistle), and “It Wasn’t Meant To Happen” (cut from Follies).
This is a musical tale about the arrows of love missing their mark: “Well, my dear, take care. It wasn’t meant to happen. Yes, I know–Unfair.” It will be of special interest for Sondheim lovers and those who want to once enjoy the pleasures of the un-microphoned voice, a well-played piano and a close-in feel to live entertainment.
Maybe it is the ever quickening, shorting daylight hours; the recent heartbreaking local events and atmospherics here in the DC area, or just a longing for some small-scale, reachable evening beyond the television, computer screen or smart phone apps to find a mark. It is lovely to know such still exists. Who needs trumpets all the time?
Photos by Gary Mester
- Lou Steele
- Dani Stoller
- Director: Matt Conner
- Musical Director: Amy Conley
- Scenic Designer: Margie Jervis
- Lighting Director: Kenneth Willis
- Lighting/Sound Technician: Tiara Hairston
Disclaimer: Creative Cauldron provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/9806.
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on ShowBizRadio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, Alexandria's American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with Arlington's American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.