“Sunday in the Park with George” at SUNY New Paltz

NEW PALTZ — The Department of Theatre Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz presents Sunday in the Park with George, the Pulitzer Prize winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, opening on Thursday, Oct. 14th and running for two extended weekends. Sunday in the Park with George is mostly a fictional account of how French Impressionist painter Georges Seurat created his most well-known work, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” The musical is widely regarded as one of the most daring and challenging achievements ever to grace the Broadway stage.

Image available at http://www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/george272-09-04.htmlMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim merge past and present into basic, heartfelt truths about life, creation and emotion. The score shines most with the emotionally compelling “We Do Not Belong Together” and the wise “Children and Art.” This material demonstrates why Sondheim was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Act One is set in 1880s Paris and focuses on Seurat, who believes that reality can always be improved upon in art. Struggling to give birth to not only a new painting, but to a new style of painting, called pointillism, Seurat, through the act of painting, washes away the petty disagreements of the characters in his landscape, creating a world of order, balance, and harmony. Locking himself in his solitary studio filled with paints and canvasses, socially detached Seurat devotes himself fully to his art, unable to commit to anything else. The only person capable of loving Seurat is his aptly named model and mistress Dot. Dot’s passion is Georges, but Georges’ passion is art.

Act Two flashes forward to an American art museum in 1984, where George-a descendant of Seurat and a multi-media artist himself-is frantically involved in the unveiling of his new work as well as celebrating the 100th anniversary of his great-grandfather’s famous painting.

Sondheim has said that the show’s first act is about the making of a painting, while the second act is about the life of that painting. The first act is about a man who refuses to compromise his artistic integrity for the sake of acceptance, while the second act is about a man who does nothing but compromise his artistic integrity for the sake of acceptance.

James Lapine has written four compelling lead characters in Georges, Dot, great-grandson George, and Marie, and they are marvelously brought to life. Each character’s struggle-whether it be to connect with others, one’s self or one’s canvas-is very human, and the impact those struggles have is always believable. Lapine populates both acts with a colorful assortment of supporting characters.

Sunday in the Park with George is directed by Frank Trezza, chairman of the Theatre Department. Performance dates are October 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 17, and 24 at 2 p.m. All performances are in McKenna Theatre, which is wheelchair accessible and equipped with an assisted listening system for the hearing impaired.

Tickets are $18 general admission, $16 students and seniors. In addition, subscription packages to the entire Theatre Arts season are also on sale. Tickets and subscriptions are available by phone at (845) 257-3880 and online at www.newpaltz.edu/theatre.

Tickets and season subscriptions may be also purchased in person at Parker Box Office, located in Parker Theatre beginning October 4. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Beginning one hour prior to each performance, tickets are sold at the McKenna Theatre.

For images to accompany this press release visit http://www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/george272-09-04.html