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I'm curious: has anyone seen this musical, or know of it? If so, what are your thoughts? To be entirely honest, this show is my favorite work of art. The music and the story, about the creative process behind art and connecting with an audience, move and inspire me more than any film, book, play, musical, painting, etc. I would describe the show as something similar to Andrei Rublev or Three Colors: Blue if either of those were to be made a musical.

I do have many friends who argue Sweeney Todd is Sondheim's best work. From a purely artistic viewpoint, I would not disagree, but Sunday in the Park with George has a personal, heartfelt touch that Sweeney does not, IMO.

There's a wonderful DVD of a stage prodcution with most of the original cast that was televised in the '80's. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. I think it's available on instant streaming from Amazon. And finally Mandy Patinkin singing one of the main numbers:

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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SWEENEY TODD and FOLLIES are ultimately my favorite Sondheim shows (with a soft spot for A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, which I saw on Broadway during my honeymoon). They are more fully-realized than SUNDAY, which has a tremendous first act but a much weaker second. Nevertheless, SUNDAY is Sondheim's most uplifting and inspirational work, and I don't think Sondheim has ever written a better song than "Finishing the Hat."

And yes, the Patinkin/Peters DVD is an absolute must-see.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I've lost count of the number of friends, professors, colleagues, who have told me that Sunday has a brilliant first act and a disappointing second act that they don't care for. Nonetheless, I'm not convinced. I've watched the DVD many times and even played pit for a production that my college did a few years ago. I still think the show perfectly (or very near perfectly) depicts the struggles of the artist as he works to create art, and then his struggles as he works to promote it. Both acts are united by the overarching theme of connecting with an audience and with peers. And the score for act 2 is a mirror of the score in act 1.

Probably as a composer, I become much more personally invested watching Sunday than other shows, which is why it's my favorite. My other favorites of Sondheim's work would be Sweeney (of course) along with Follies and Into the Woods (for nostalgic reasons), and I have a soft spot for Assassins.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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The failure of the second act is not thematic or musical (some of my favorite songs from the show are from the second half), but dramatic. The first act very successfully roots the artist's struggles in clearly-defined characters with a compelling relationship. The George of the second act (I'll call him George 2) isn't a very interesting fella on his own, and his existential dilemma is not rooted in compelling relational interaction.

Still, it's hardly a bad second act. It's a testament to the sheer talent of Sondheim et al. that the second act is nevertheless still pretty good. It's just not as good as what has come before.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I'll agree George 2 is less interesting on his own than George 1, but I think Sondheim makes him interesting through the lyrics of "Putting It Together" and "Lesson #8." George 2's dilemma is rooted in relational non-interaction, which is a struggle I can relate to. And the main reason I admire act 2 almost as much as act 1 is: "Move On," which Sondheim sets up near perfectly.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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