Tarragon Theatre’s Marry Me A Little, created by Craig Lucas and Norman René and directed by Adam Brazier, is a collection of outcast songs from various Stephen Sondheim musicals, organized into its very own story. Songs are taken from Sondheim’s works such as Follies, Saturday Night, and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. They are masterfully put together to create an entirely original compilation that manages to deliver a quality story. She (Elodie Gillett) and He (Adrian Marchuk) are two young, single, independent, creative thinkers whose paths cross and whose lives merge over the course of the story. He is a frustrated composer, emptying beer bottles more often than filling up pages in his songbook. She is a singer – a free spirit who seems initially reluctant to open her heart to a man she has just met.
Marchuk is remarkable, everything from his commanding presence to his impressive vocals allow him to shine in each of His songs and even in some of Hers. Gillett is no slouch herself – she brings some of the biggest laughs over the course of the show and is not overshadowed by her counterpart. The two comfortably grasp Sondheim’s song style and do not look out of place dashing about the cluttered apartment space in various costumes. Ken MacDonald’s set and costume design are the true stars of the show. The cozy apartment set design has the look and feel of a real place someone would call home, while the costuming choices immediately clue the audience into the progression of the two characters’ relationship; one example is when the clothes they wear on their first date are exchanged for pajamas once things become more serious.
Aided by Sondheim’s clever songwriting, Gillett and Marchuk dart about the stage, turning the set inside out as their relationship changes the quaint apartment they inhabit. Chairs are exchanged for benches, a couch becomes a pull-out, lampshades are switched, and the set is slowly transformed to reflect the growing connection the two characters are beginning to share. The frenetic first half of the play is followed by a much slower second half, which is seemingly a somewhat backwards decision, although one that does not take away from the performance or the music. Overall, Marry Me A Little is an engaging, emotional ride through the romantic entanglement of two young lovers. Fans of Sondheim are sure to enjoy it, and fans of musicals in general will be entertained too.
Marry Me a Little is running at Tarragon Theatre until April 6. For tickets and more information visit: http://tarragontheatre.com/season/1314/marry-me-a-little/.
photo credit : Cylla von Tiedemann