San Diego, CA---Craig Lucas and Norman René were on to something when they conceived and developed the musical revue “Marry Me A Little” based on a treasure trove of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘throw away songs’ or songs that were in his war chest of musicals but were left on the cutting room floor before the shows they were written for made it to the big time. Others even made it back. Such is the business of show business.
If you know your Sondheim shows like “A Little Night Music”, “Follies”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Company” you might want to take look at “Marry Me A Little” (from “Company”) currently in fine revue at Diversionary Theatre through Sept. 29th.
Now Diversionary Theatre being Diversionary Theatre, director and choreographer James Vasquez is presenting three different looks at the musical, all using the same out takes. One stars two men (Jacob Caltrider and Stewart Calhoun), one stars two women (Sarah Errington and Mitzi Michaels) and the third stars one man (Jacob Caltrider) and one woman (Sarah Errington). It's just a little twist on the traditional.
It isn’t quite as complicated as it might sound. The music, no dialogue, tells its own story of two people living one floor above (or below depending on the way you look at it) each other in a New York City apartment building. Their lives parallel each other. All three couples are looking for the same happiness, perhaps a Saturday night fling, a good date or just someone to have a glass of wine and dinner with, be they gay or not so much. In this case both the couples seen on media night happen to be gay. A third rendition with a man and a woman will be mounted on another date. (Check times at diversionary.org)
The night I saw the show, two versions were presented; first the two women performed then an intermission and shortly after the two men took the stage. All shared the same apartment, bedroom, living space, kitchen (different foods, different appetites), lobby, and elevator (passing each other but not really seeing each other) both without bumping into one another (very clever set design by James Vasquez and Brett Young) yet managing the look of two separate flats. Vasquez does a fine job of directing, making it look easy without becoming clumsy.
The eighteen or so musical numbers are accompanied on the piano by the multitalented Tony Houck, (musical direction). The keyboards help to bring out the nuances in all four performers that tell the story. Of the two couples I found the men to be the stronger although on opening night Mitzi Michaels knocked the socks off the audience with her rendering of “Your Eyes are Blue” (cut from “Forum”) and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (“Follies”).
Her stage presence shows confidence, her voice is rich and she’s not afraid to use it. Errington’s higher registers seem to strain on several of the numbers. She is a good balance for Michaels as her personality takes on the lighter side of the two.
The men’s voices come on much stronger and are easier to understand along the way. Both Caltrider and Calhoun are equally competent of putting a song across and they sing Sondheim well. Both look like they are having fun doing it.
A couple of my favorites include “Can That Boy Foxtrot” (“Follies”), “There Won’t Be Trumpets” (“Anyone Can Whistle”). This one made it to the mainstream. I have it on a CD with Mandy Patinkin belting it out. “Happily Ever After” (“Company”) and “Bang” (“A Little Night Music”) are cute and whimsy. And the lovely “So Many People” from “Saturday Night” sound pretty familiar. “Happily Ever After” was meant to be in “Company” but was replaced by “Being Alive” because the first was said to be ‘too gloomy’.
Technical support comes from Kevin Anthenill’s outside street and city sounds, (Sound design) Luke Olson’s great lighting design and Shirley Pierson’s oft times quirky looking costumes.
If you can’t live another day without Sondheim, or you just feel like having s Sondheim moment (75 minutes worth) then “Marry Me A Little” at Diversionary theatre is the place to be.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Sept. 29th
Organization: Diversionary Theatre
Production Type: Musical Revue
Where: 4545 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92116
Ticket Prices: $35.00-$59.00