On Thursday, December 1, Deputy News Editor Paulina Rodriguez attended the opening of the Columbia Musical Theatre Society’s production of Sunday in the Park with George, which runs through December 3 at Barnard’s Glicker-Milstein Theatre.

After last month’s successful production of In the Heights, the Columbia Musical Theatre Society returned to the stage on Thursday with Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. The musical, directed by Caroline Egler (BC ‘24), follows a fictionalized version of French pointillist painter Georges Seurat (known in the musical as just “George,”) as he attempts to complete his masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and his great-grandson, George, a struggling sculptor working 100 years later. 

The cast, led by Tommy Doyle (GS ‘24) and Catherine Herrera (CC ‘25), brought Sondheim’s music—and Seurat’s painting—to life in a way only a truly great ensemble can, with equally nuanced, powerful performances by everyone from the leads to each chorus member. Perhaps the best example of this was ensemble member Armand Procacci (CC ‘23), who, as the Soldier in Seurat’s painting, flexed his unparalleled chemistry with his recurring scene partner, a cardboard cutout. Meanwhile, as both the elder and younger George, Doyle delivered yet another triumphant performance, grasping both characters’ rich emotional complexity without detracting from the manifold ways their obsessions with their work make them less-than-admirable partners, friends, and sons. Similarly, Herrera balanced humor with heartbreaking earnestness as both the elder George’s lover, Dot, in the first act, and the younger George’s grandmother, Marie, in the second. Amelia Mason (BC ‘24) stole every one of her scenes as Yvonne, the upper-class wife of George’s more successful artist counterpart, Jules, accenting the character’s trademark snobbishness with an endlessly entertaining air of condescension up until the very moment she reveals her heartwrenching vulnerability. However, the standout of the night was undoubtedly Pimprenelle Behaeghel (BC ‘24), who brought explosive charm, humor, and accent work to the otherwise small role of the Boat Man, one of many supporting characters whom Georges tries, often in vain, to capture on his canvas. 

While the show was grounded by a stellar ensemble and profound emotional depth in Doyle’s performance, the production team’s fast transformation of the blackbox stage was just as remarkable. Set Designers Jasmine Chen (BC ‘25) and Itai Savin (SEAS ‘23) made clever use of the limited space, surrounding the actors with four massive blank canvases that made the entire production feel like a moving painting. In place of a traditional backdrop, a fifth blank canvas featured projections of the show’s various settings, from the painting itself to the real-life Grande Jatte park to the galleries where both Georges struggle with the nature of their work. Lighting design from Vi Tran (CC ‘25) and Lillabeth Broderson (BC ‘25) brought both artists’ masterpieces to life, immersing the audience in a bath of vivid color reminiscent of Seurat’s original masterwork. 

Overall, the combination of Egler’s clever directorial choices and powerful performances from an expertly-chosen ensemble cast brought new life to Sondheim’s nearly 40-year-old work, emphasizing that at the show’s core is a deeply personal reflection on the nature of creating art. After Thursday’s performance, Sunday in the Park with George is a piece of art the entire cast and crew should be proud of. 

CMTS’ production of Sunday in the Park with George runs through Dec. 3, with shows at 2 pm and 7 pm.

Promotional image via CMTS