Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Lonely Hearts

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Lonely Hearts

Article excerpt

Keen's Marry Me explores the eternal follies of love

He sings; she sings. If they sang together, they might make beautiful music. But that doesn't happen in Marry Me a Little, Craig Lucas and Norman René's 1980 revue of songs by Stephen Sondheim, revived off-Broadway by New York City's Keen Company (Sept. 11-Oct. 27, 2012, and opening Oct. 2) with direction by Jonathan Silverstein. (See p. 33 for an interview, including discussion of works excised and added to his production.) To be more precise, it's the characters who never sing together, except in their dreams. The performers do.

The premise for the slender plot, pulling together 20 Sondheim outtakes, is two lonely hearts separately whiling away a Saturday night, a classic Sondheim theme of people not quite connecting. Their story is told entirely in song with no dialogue. How could there be, when boy doesn't meet girl until the show's final moment?

Steven C. Kemp's unit set in the basementlevel Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row on West 42nd Street represented both apartments, studios in Brooklyn; at stage right, a bed warmed by a soft pool of light; at stage left, a bathroom sink; upstage, a door and a kitchen that seemed to consist entirely of a microwave and a counter. At the piano behind the counter sat musical director John Bell, ably providing accompaniment.

Lauren Molina and Jason Tam burst into their entrances, looking their parts: "He" in leather jacket and hipster fedora, and "She" in mini-dress and bluegreen tights. (Molina wriggled in and out of more such dresses, and both actors stripped to their underwear during their 70 minutes onstage.) In the Clurman's shallow house - seven rows, 15 seats wide - those sitting up front had to swivel left and right to follow Dan Knechtges's choreography.

Set in "the Present," this Marry Me was appropriately up-to-date. Molina texted - or more likely sexted - her way through "Can That Boy Foxtrot!" Her appetite for that unprepossessing grocery clerk made it clear it wasn't his foxtrot that interested her. Tam followed with "Bring on the Girls," staring at a dating site on his laptop, then rising from the bed to dance with his MacBook as if he were Fred Astaire with a coat rack.

The subtext of "Bang!" remained sexual as she hammered nails into the wall and he responded with a broomstick to the ceiling. …

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