Deal J Theatre

Theatre, Musicals & Concerts – Views & Reviews

Putting It Together – G Live, 27 September 2013

Putting It Together - G Live Guildford - BannerWhen the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together was first produced at Oxford’s Old Fire Station theatre in 1992, the selection of songs featured several lesser-known works either cut from their intended shows or chosen from his less successful productions. A large portion of the show was taken or adapted from Merrily We Roll Along, which at the time would have been new to most of the audience given its notriously short run on Broadway. It was strange to revisit this piece so soon after Merrily’s hugely successful recent run on the West End; stranger still that it featured one of its stars, Damian Humbley.

Putting It Together - G Live Guildford - In Rehearsal - David Bedella Damian Humbley Janie DeeThe majority of this impressive cast were already equipped with Sondheim credentials – David Bedella starred in the European premiere of Road Show at the Menier, Janie Dee was in the UK premiere of Anyone Can Whistle at the Bridewell, and Caroline Sheen played Philia in the National Theatre’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. The creative team Alex Parker and Alastair Knights reunited folllowing their recent concert performance of A Little Night Music earlier this year at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud theatre, which also starred Janie Dee as Desiree Armfeldt.

Putting It Together - G Live Guildford - In Rehearsal - Caroline SheenThe revue has a gossamer-thin plot loosely connecting the songs as the observer (Daniel Crossley) attends a party being thrown by a wealthy married couple (Janie Dee & Daniel Bedella) with a younger dating couple (Caroline Sheen & Damian Humbley) amongst their guests.

Those familiar with the revised 1998 Broadway revival starring Ruthie Henshall, John Barrowman, Carol Burnett, George Hearn and Bronson Pinchot (available on DVD, but Region 1 encoded) will be pleased to hear that this production followed the same order, with a few amusing updates, from minor lyrical revisions (“this is not a Mackintosh production”) to Janie Dee’s arrival (“I’m in Guildford at the G Spot. Doing that thing, you know – with Damian Merrily and Caroline Shiny.”).

Putting It Together - G Live Guildford - In Rehearsal - Daniel Crossley Damian Humbley David BedellaThe small studio at Guildford’s G Live venue gave this production a delightful intimacy, seating just sixty people. The space was used to its extremities, with members of the cast often singing in the two corner ‘aisles’ between audience members, ending with a group rendition of Being Alive as four ‘soloists’ in each corner. Due to an extremely lucky choice of seat I was lucky enough to have David Bedella sing The Road You Didn’t Take right at my side.

David was deliciously wicked during Pretty Women and Hello Little Girl, so much so that I’m now keen to see him cast as Sweeney Todd or the Into The Woods Wolf. Similarly Damian Humbley’s breathtaking Marry Me A Little puts him at the top of my wish list for Bobby in Company, and Janie Dee’s defiantly strong Every Day A Little Death showed she’d make a perfect Charlotte in A Little Night Music. Caroline Sheen’s Lovely and More showcased her silken voice paired with great comic timing.

Putting It Together - G Live Guildford - In Rehearsal - Damian Humbley Janie DeeDaniel Crossley and Janie Dee united for an extremely saucy Everybody Ought To Have A Maid with roles reversed to make Daniel the serving boy and Janie his predatory employer. Daniel also gave a feverishly energetic and hilarious performance of Buddy’s Blues, and Janie bravely took on the breakneck speed of Not Getting Married – although this tripped her up at the end, the audience certainly didn’t care as she dismissed the fluffed line with an attitude of ‘well, what did you expect’ to much cheer.

The musicals of Stephen Sondheim contain many exhausting numbers due to their lyrical complexity or emotional weight, so this revue must be incredibly difficult for performers as it cherry picks so many of them and demands a small cast to continually deliver showstopper material. This cast certainly succeeded with stunning solo and ensemble pieces in a show which must be immensely difficult to put together.

    Act 1:

  • Invocation and Instructions to the Audience [The Frogs]
  • Putting It Together [Sunday in the Park with George]
  • Rich and Happy [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Do I Hear a Waltz? [from the unproduced Do You Hear a Waltz?]
  • Merrily Fragment 1 [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Lovely [A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum]
  • Merrily Fragment 2 [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Hello Little Girl [Into the Woods]
  • My Husband the Pig [cut from A Little Night Music]
  • Every Day a Little Death [A Little Night Music]
  • Everybody Ought to Have a Maid [A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum]
  • Have I Got a Girl for You [Company]
  • Pretty Women [Sweeney Todd]
  • Sooner or Later [Dick Tracy]
  • Bang! [cut from A Little Night Music]
  • Country House [Follies]
  • Unworthy of Your Love [Assassins]
  • Merrily Fragment 3 [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Could I Leave You? [Follies]
  • Rich and Happy (Reprise) [Merrily We Roll Along]
    Act 2:

  • Back in Business [Dick Tracy]
  • It’s Hot Up Here [Sunday in the Park with George]
  • The Ladies Who Lunch [Company]
  • The Road You Didn’t Take [Follies]
  • Live Alone and Like It [Dick Tracy]
  • More [Dick Tracy]
  • There’s Always a Woman [cut from Anyone Can Whistle]
  • Buddy’s Blues [Follies]
  • Good Thing Going [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Marry Me a Little [cut from Company]
  • Getting Married Today [Company]
  • Merrily Fragment 4 [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Being Alive [Company]
  • Like It Was [Merrily We Roll Along]
  • Old Friends [Merrily We Roll Along]

‘Putting It Together’ was at G Live for a limited run of 4 performances, however there are strong rumours that the team will be reuniting in January 2014 for a four week run at St James Theatre. Keep an eye on putittogether.co.uk and stjamestheatre.co.uk for more details – or follow me on twitter @DealJTheatre!

EDIT: The transfer has been confirmed! ‘Putting It Together’ will be at St James Theatre from 14 January – 1 February 2014. Tickets available via stjamestheatre.co.uk.

Cast:
Putting It Together - G Live Guildford - VenueMan 1 – David Bedella
Man 2 – Damien Humbley
Man 3 – Daniel Crossley
Woman 1 – Janie Dee
Woman 2 – Caroline Sheen

Creative:
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Director – Alastair Knights
Musical Director – Alex Parker
Choreographer – Matt Rowland
Associate Direction & Choreography – Scarlet Wilderink

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This entry was posted on 27/09/2013 by in Musical, Theatre and tagged , , , , , .

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