Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Unrequited Love Affair

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Unrequited Love Affair

Article excerpt

Critics had mixed responses to the new Sondheim revue A Bed and a Chair

In general, the mission of this diverting but very awkward special Encores! production ... seems to be to unbutton and unbend the work of the greatest precisionist of all Broadway songwriters. And while I've heard individual cabaret performers successfully take a similar approach, this particular meeting of great talents rarely finds compelling common ground. ... The show's director, John Doyle, has shown himself to be the most resourceful Sondheim interpreter of his generation. As for the musicians, they're the members of the dazzlingly polished Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Under the musical direction of [Wynton] Marsalis, they provide vivid and exciting readings of Sondheim songs that highlight the urban adrenaline. ... But as conceived by Mr. Doyle with the writer Peter Gethers (Old Jews Telling Jokes) and the Encores! artistic director, Jack Viertel, A Bed and a Chair is ultimately less about modern city life than modern love. ... [T]he extrapolation of story from song feels both heavy-handed and confusing.

Ben Brantley

The New York Times

Over 90 minutes, two couples play and stray. [Bernadette] Peters and Norm Lewis are one duo; Jeremy Jordan and Cyrille Aimée, the other. ... The four characters are shadowed by inner selves played by lithe dancers Meg Gillentine, Tyler Hanes, Grasan Kingsberry and Elizabeth Parkinson. ... Parker Esse's choreography alternately enhances and distracts, and needs to be better integrated. Projections [by Steve Channon], seen on a huge screen behind the onstage orchestra, also need refinement. They're often too literal. As the obsessionthemed "Losing My Mind" is about to be performed, a coffee shop is seen, preceding the famous lyric - "The coffee cup, I think about you." Come on.

Joe Dziemianowicz

(New York) Daily News

While the concept is daring, the execution is timid - even, at times, downright bland. The new orchestrations are pleasingly brassy but conservative. ... And the singers are mostly from the Broadway world, so they perform in the expected Broadway style. Of course, when said style is done by Bernadette Peters, you pay attention. The evening's biggest payoff is her take on "Broadway Baby" and "The Ladies Who Lunch." She's slyly funny on the first and makes the second sound fresh by trading the customary roaring anger for sad resignation. …

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