Middletown Lyric Theatre turns 45, presents ‘Sunday in the Park with George’

Celebrating 45 years of community theater in 2023, Middletown Lyric Theatre will present Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George”.

“‘Sunday in the Park with George,’ of course, arguably, is Sondheim’s favorite musical, and in the theater world, probably people’s favorite musical. It’s a bucket list show, personally, for myself,” said Charley Shafor, managing artistic director at Middletown Lyric Theatre.

“When I was a senior in high school, I went to New York, and it was one of the first show’s I ever saw,” he said. “I got to see it with the original cast, and from that moment on, I have loved the show. It has a beautiful score. I love how it mixes art, theater and performance, and everything that the arts are all about into one great package about a painter who was misunderstood but produced a couple of the most beautiful paintings of his time.”

There will be four performances of the show over two consecutive weekends.

“Sunday in the Park with George” is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine. The production was inspired by a French painter, George Seurat and his most famous painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jaffe.” “Sunday in the Park with George” opened on Broadway in 1984.

“At the core of the show, the show is about love. There is an artist who is tortured by people not understanding his art or his form. George Seurat was the father of Pointillism, and people did not understand it at the time. He died very young. In the musical, Sondheim created a story that he was in love with one of the subject’s of his painting, and he put her everywhere in the painting,” Shafor said.

The cast is comprised of Jeffery Dye as Boatman/Charles Redmond, Chase Engel as Soldier/Dennis, Leanne Greenberg as Old Lady/Naomi Eisen, MG Griffith as Louise/Photographer, Kyrsten Jankovich as Celeste #2/Waitress, Les Landen as Mr., Jovone Lewis as Nurse/Harriet, Rhonda Lucas as Mrs./Blair Daniels, Timothy Macuski as Louis/Billy Webster, Dylan McGill as Jules/Bob Greenberg, Sean Miller-Jones as George, Olivia Pannek as Celeste #1/Elaine, Katelyn Quinn as Dot/Marie, Megan Rehberg as Yvonne/Alex, Evan Rogers as Franz/Lee Randolph, and Danielle Ullman as Frieda/Betty. The show is directed by Ryan Heinrich.

“What I’m hoping audiences walk away with is not only appreciating the intricacies of Sondheim’s work, and the care in which he puts a musical together, but also how he introduces the audience to a great piece of art, a forgotten artist, a misunderstood artist, and I hope that fuels them to want to pursue looking into art more, musical theater more, and the creation of art,” Shafor said.

Founded in 1978, the mission of Middletown Lyric Theatre is to inspire, nurture, challenge, educate and empower audiences while continuing a longstanding tradition of producing affordable and accessible community theater productions.

How to go

What: “Sunday in the Park with George”

When: 8 p.m. June 16-17 and June 23; 3 p.m. June 24

Where: Middletown Lyric Theatre is located at 1530 Central Avenue, Middletown

Admission: $20 reserved seating (plus applicable ticketing fees). Purchase at www.middletownlyric.org. Advance online purchase recommended. If available, tickets may be purchased at each performance.

More info: www.middletownlyric.org or at (513) 425-7140. The show is sponsored by The Miriam G. Knoll Charitable Foundation.

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