This is my first exposure to Marry Me a Little, the Sondheim revue conceived by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene in 1980. So, I have no clue about its original form, which seems to be much much loved in certain corners. I like this version just fine – it frames an assortment of lesser-known Sondheim songs with a vague dialogue-free story about two lonely strangers.
Two singles, alone in their New York apartments (a floor away from each other) on a Saturday night, ruminate over romantic hopes, fears and regrets. There’s some hints of sexting and on-line “dating” that I’m fairly sure weren’t in the original, but they don’t detract. Lauren Molina and Jason Tam are definitely appealing, and although they sing well enough, they were clearly cast more for their ability to act a song – a smart move on director Jonathan Silverstein’s part and crucial to putting the plot across as clearly as possible.
Tam and Molina also do a terrific job of communicating that they are in different apartments even though they may be mere inches apart, much aided by Silverstein’s razor-sharp staging. Plus, when their imagination puts them together they have a lovely chemistry, essential to putting over Sondheim’s sophisticated lyrics about the rewards and dangers of romance.
Also very smart is Josh Bradford’s evocative lighting design which clearly delineates the border between reality and imagination (where these dreamers spend a good chunk of time). Steven C. Kemp’s set puts us immediately in a recognizable place – “Her” is a cellist, “Him” a poet, and this looks very much like the Williamsburg apartments of writers and musicians that I know.
Charming, occasionally touching or sweetly funny, this Marry Me a Little isn’t earth-shattering, it’s just a reasonably satisfying evening of musical theatre.
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