This Sunday I had a very pleasant outing; a few of us from work decided a while ago that we would like to go down to another theatre town in the area, Niagara-on-the-Lake, to the Shaw Festival. We did this specifically to see Sunday in the Park with George, one of our favourite Sondheim pieces, starring one of our favourite actors (who has been in Stratford previously), Steven Sutcliffe.
It was a great day; the weather was exquisite, the drive was fine (though long) and the show was fabulous! The actors were all very accomplished, and the singing was wonderful. Have I used enough superlatives yet? In brief, it was just perfect. If you know this show, you will know that the main character, George, is on stage for nearly the entire time, in both acts. George was played by Steven Sutcliffe, and his performance was amazing. I love his voice! Of course, I could be a little biased, as he could probably stand on stage and smile and I'd think he was great. ;) Seriously, with this show, the ability to articulate the very exact pointillistic words to the elaborate, wordy songs is key. Sutcliffe and the leading lady, Julie Martell, are both excellent at this. So you know it's not just me, let me share the words of a theatre critic, Gary Smith:
At the centre of this astounding experience is a landmark performance from Steven Sutcliffe that is brilliant in every way. Sutcliffe is even more devastating, more charming, more musically connected to the artistic spirit of Seurat than Mandy Patinkin was on Broadway.
There! If you like Sondheim and are nearby, this is absolutely worth travelling to.
Another great thing about going to Niagara-on-the-Lake is that it is such a pretty, pretty town. We wandered around a little, enjoying the sun, then went for dinner at Shaw's Café & Wine Bar. I found it rather amusing that a restaurant named after George Bernard Shaw (vegetarian since age 25 who stated that "A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses") should have so very many meat dishes available and only three vegetarian options. But I enjoyed my vegetarian pasta nonetheless. It was a lovely dinner with convivial company and was the perfect ending to a lovely day out. (except for the long drive home, of course...)
George Bernard Shaw