Wednesday, January 9, 2013

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Almost Like Remembering (That should be a Sondheim song if it isn’t already) By Beverly Creasey

You’d swear you know these songs by Stephen Sondheim but you don’t quite remember what show they come from. That’s because they were cut from famous shows and most likely, you don’t know them… or you heard them once on WERS…or someone in a cabaret show dug them up. Diehard fans already know them, of course, but for the rest of us, thank heaven New Repertory Theatre is mounting the Sondheim revue, MARRY ME A LITTLE (through Jan. 27th). The charming, little retrospective celebrates work from unproduced musicals, songs written for television productions and music excised for various reasons from hits like COMPANY, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and FOLLIES.

The clever revue created by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene was originally intended for two singers but director/choreographer Ilyse Robbins at New Rep opens it up for four singers in various combinations and it works swimmingly. If you like all things Sondheim, this is a must. And the New Rep singers make it much more than a music history lesson.

What was supposed to be Sondheim’s very first musical offers the marvelous lyric, “If it’s Saturday night and you’re single…and you’ve resisted the urge to mingle,” [then you’ll be spending] SATURDAY NIGHT ALONE. Aimee Doherty and Brad Daniel Peloquin sit alone in their respective apartments beautifully mirroring each’s lament. What marks almost all of Sondheim’s songs is that they’re quite funny and poignant at the same time. TWO FAIRY TALES (originally in NIGHT MUSIC) allow Erica Spyres and Phil Tayler to voice opposing, delightfully amusing dreams of perfection.

As you’re hearing UPTOWN, DOWNTOWN about a gal named Harriet from New Rochelle, you’re thinking it should be Lucy and Jessie and you’re right. It’s an early version of the FOLLIES song, delivered in the same rhythm, with some hilarious rhymes, which Doherty nails deliciously. She masters the sardonic like it’s mother’s milk, in fact, bringing home the bite with just the right inflection and spot on articulation, so that you don’t miss a syllable.

Wait ‘til you hear HAPPILY EVER AFTER (in Hell!) or the lush melodies and gorgeous accompaniments from music director David McGrory and Todd C. Gordon (at two pianos) and Spyres on violin! It’s a wealth of material and a gem of a production.