always, notes to myself to remember a show]
After a Memorial Day picnic at Dmitri and Sigrid's I went to see Putting It Together at Signature Theater. It's a show that was first put on in London and then in New York. The man who directed the NY version also directed this production.
It's a review of Sondheim songs - and that's been done before - but with the twist that there is a new and minimal plot holding the numbers together. There were 5 singers with a trio for the music. The "plot" is the marriage of ultra wealthy New Yorkers.
The songs as listed in the program were broken down by the shows they came from [the program is embedded further down] but were presented in the order that supported the plot. No costumes, no scenery, [and except for one feather duster and one glass] no props.
The show was enjoyable and well done; with the exception of 1 or 2 numbers the singers were able to handle the presentation of Sondheim lyrics and the accompanying music was so good that you didn't notice it. The thread of the plot which was weak in the first act pretty much unraveled in the second Act. They did do a very odd version of one of my favorites, "Do I Hear A Waltz", which disappointed me.
The characters were the Husband, The Wife, The Other Man, the other woman and the observing Man. The latter began the show with an excerpt from an old production of Aristophanes' The Frogs with Sondheim's music that you never hear about any more, The actor segued from announcements about cellular phones and cellophane candy wrappers into the show itself. The husband was played / sung by an actor I know only from The Old Bear and Bush Christmas show at Arena, the wife by an actress who had been in the Whoopee! review at the Old Vat.
That actress , in my mind, had a problem in several numbers because of her physical appearance. In several songs lyrics that spoke of her great beauty jarred; in a reverse sexual role version of Everybody Ought To Have a Maid there was a vaudeville advance across the stage that the [male] maid did but which luckily the woman didn't. But even though not doing it was better than doing it, it still pointed up her very very large size. Since the theater is small, maybe 200 seats, there was no miking. The Other Woman would have been all right except that the projection of the 4 others was so powerful she sometimes disappeared when she was singing.
I guess it was a pleasant time because the things that stick into my mind about the show are extraneous; why did The Observer get his hair styled when he shifted from the Announcer to the audience to a character in the show and how wise The Husband was. he performs in opera, theater, musical reviews but has kept his day job in the Army Chorus for financial stability.
The performance was almost sold out but I did not notice that some people left at intermission.
SCHAEFFER BRINGS SONDHEIM'S PUTTING IT TOGETHER TO SIGNATURE THEATRE FOLLOWING BROADWAY BOW
Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer closes the Signature Theatre season with Stephen Sondheim's Putting it Together, recreating the production that marked his Broadway debut last year. An all-star Washington cast features cabaret favorite Jane Pesci-Townsend as well as Signature Theatre alums Sherri Edelen, Jason Gilbert, Ty Hreben and Signature newcomer Bob McDonald.
Schaeffer's Signature production marks the regional premiere of the Cameron Mackintosh-produced Broadway musical. Built on a story-line in which two couples gather for a cocktail party that turns into an evening of laughs, frolic and personal journeys, Putting It Together re-envisions such classic Sondheim numbers as "Marry Me A Little," "Being Alive," "The Road You Didn't Take," and "Pretty Women." Schaeffer teams up with Jon Kalbfleisch to bring Sondheim's music and lyrics to life. Schaeffer has directed numerous Sondheim productions at Signature, including the Helen Hayes Award-winning productions of Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Into the Woods and Passion. Kalbfleish has collaborated with Schaeffer on numerous productions including the Sondheim musicals at Signature as well as Cabaret and The Rink.
Jane Pesci-Townsend, a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee, makes her Signature main stage debut in the role created on Broadway by Carol Burnett. She has appeared as a cabaret artist at Signature's Paul's Pub, as well as at The Marquee Cabaret and at Don't Tell Mama in New York. Regionally, she has performed at Arena Stage, The Folger, Metro Stage, Source Theatre, and Washington Jewish Theatre. She is joined in the five-person ensemble cast by Signature veteran Sherri L. Edelen, winner of the 2000 Helen Hayes Award for her portrayal of Violet Hilton in Signature's Side Show. Edelen most recently appeared at Signature Theatre in Gypsy and has also appeared in Signature productions of Tell Me on a Sunday, The Rink and Assassins. Also featured in the cast is Ty Hrebin, who has appeared at Signature in Side Show and Floyd Collins and most recently performed in Pageant at Rep Stage and The Most Fabulous Story at Source Theatre, both to critical acclaim. Jason Gilbert, a two time Helen Hayes Award-nominee, has appeared at Signature in Floyd Collins and Over & Over. Bob McDonald makes his Signature debut after appearing locally at Interact Theatre and Arena Stage.
The set design is by Eric Schaeffer with lighting by Michael Philippi. Most recently, Philippi designed Angels in America and Gypsy at Signature. Artistic Associate Anne Kennedy will design the costumes. Previous designs include In the Absence of Spring, Sweeney Todd, Over & Over and Side Show, for which she was nominated for a 2001 Helen Hayes Award.