Upcoming Theater: SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (A Dance-Forward Production, Axelrod Performing Arts Center, NJ)

Post image for Upcoming Theater: SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (A Dance-Forward Production, Axelrod Performing Arts Center, NJ)

by Gregory Bernard on March 1, 2024

in Theater-New York,Theater-Regional

Grind Arts Company presents a bold reimagining of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Sunday in the Park With George March 8-24, 2024, at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center (100 Grant Avenue, Deal, NJ). Official opening night is Saturday, March 9 at 8 PM. For tickets, visit Axelrod Arts Center.

Eamon Foley brings a bold, new, dance-forward reimagining to the stage. Inspired by the Georges Seurat painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Sunday is one of the most acclaimed musicals of our time; it won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize and garnered 10 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. As George completes his most ambitious work, the artist struggles to create meaningful art and meaningful connections with those he’s closest, including his lover, Dot. Misunderstood by the artistic community, George has the capacity to engage with the subjects on his canvas, but not with the people in his life. A century later, Seurat’s great grandson – also an artist named George – is lost and in search of direction. He finds his path forward, illuminated by the color and light of the past.

“My dance-forward vision of Sunday In The Park With George began twenty years ago,” says Foley. “I was a nine-year-old newsboy in the Broadway revival of Gypsy with Bernadette Peters. All of us child actors would watch the PBS recording of Sunday on VHS during the second act, while waiting for our curtain call. Then, I’d listen to the cast album on my commutes to and from the theatre, and the score really inspired me, as it has so many others. To me it sounded like color swirling around you, and I believed that this complex and beloved musical had untapped potential to dance. Bringing the colors to life as dancers en pointe seemed like the perfect way to bring us closer to George, and honor what I first found so thrilling about Sondheim’s rich score.”

Video of Graham Phillips & company in “Finishing The Hat”

Later, Foley would further explore this concept as a student at Princeton University, making a dance film set to Sunday’s “Color and Light.” A labor of love – created with the meager resources of a student artist – he experimented with this dance-forward approach to the material. “Now, with this production,” Foley says, “I bring this concept to fruition with some of my oldest friends and collaborators; I’ve admired Graham Phillips’ talent since we appeared on Broadway together in 13The Musical, and I have been admiring Talia Suskauer since we attended theatre sleepaway camp together. It’s thrilling to bring this vision to life on stage … finishing the hat, at last.”


As George, Graham Phillips (13The Musical on Broadway; TV’s The Good Wife, Riverdale) makes his first return to the stages of the Tri-state in 16 years.

Joining Phillips and Talia Suskauer (Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway) as Dot are Joy Hermalyn (Fiddler on the Roof, Caroline or Change on Broadway) as the Old Lady, Bernard Dotson (Paradise Square on Broadway) as Jules, Kevin ArnoldGiuliana AugelloAnthony CataldoKatie DavisBridget GooleyJames C. HarrisIsabel LaganaElla ManganoDylan RandazzoAllie Seibold

— and six dancers from the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater Company (AXCBT); Alyssa Harris, Giana CarrollLindsay JorgensenOlivia MirandaSarah Takash and Gillian Worek.


The production features Music Direction by Jacob Yates (Only Gold, Hadestown, Rock of Ages), who will conduct an 11-piece orchestra; Scenic Design by Ryan Howell (Teenage Dick, I Am My Own Wife); Costume Design by DW Withrow (Broadway Bares, The Rockae, The Apple Tree); Projection Design by Brad Peterson (Cats, Larry David’s Fish in the Dark), Lighting Design by Paul Miller (Legally Blonde, Amazing Grace), and additional Wig Design by J. Jared Janas (Wicked, Prayer for the French Republic, & Juliet). Dave Zuckerman is the Executive Producer, and Robin FoleyNancy Karpf, and Katie Birenboim are Co-Producers.

“With Sondheim’s most personal and soaring score,” Axelrod’s Executive Artistic Director, Andrew DePrisco summarizes, “Sunday remains the sentimental favorite of every Sondheim fan and yet it is rarely revived due to its auspicious demands. We are thrilled to be partnering with Grind Arts to mount Eamon’s brilliant conceptualization of this musical, and we are certain that audiences will be awestruck with this staging that incorporates both movement and light.”

photos by Thomas Mundell

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