Review: Stephen Sondheim’s SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at the Carrollwood Cultural Center

By: Peter Nason

Look, I made a hat/Where there never was a hat…” –from “Finishing the Hat”

“Art isn’t easy/Every minor detail/Is a major decision/Have to keep things in scale/Have to hold to your vision…”  –from “Putting It Together”

Art isn’t easy and neither is Stephen Sondheim, and this is especially true with his SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE.  SITPWG, as we’ll call it, is uncompromising and as beautiful as musical theatre gets.  It’s not even my favorite Sondheim masterpiece (that honor goes to Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along), but I still hold it as an example of a pitch perfect musical. Despite receiving the Pulitzer Prize, it’s never really been given its proper due, even during its original run where it lost the Best Musical Tony to La Cage Aux FollesLa Cage was all vibrant heart, people thought, while SITPWG was all boring brains (“a little less thinking, a little more feeling,” as one character instructs in SITPWG).  But that’s not accurate, and such a suggestion actually undermines the reality that few other Sondheim shows burst with as much heart as this one.  It’s the type of show for artists from all walks of life to get energized, pumped up for their next project.  If you’re an artist, lost in writer’s block or questioning your artistic worth, then there’s no greater tonic than SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, currently playing at the Carrollwood Cultural Center.