In the wake of the recent death of Stephen Sondheim, International City Theatre is smart to give audiences a chance to experience some of the great man’s lesser known songs with the musical revue, Marry Me a Little, a potpourri of engaging tunes brought vividly to life by the excellent talents of songsters Katy Tang and Nick Tubbs. The delightful duo do justice to the subtleties Sondheim’s lyrics. Ms. Tang’s soprano soars and Mr. Tubbs’ lyric baritone calls to my mind the power of John Raitt.
Through all of the sixty minutes plus of this one-act play the remarkable pianist, Dianne King Vann, seated on a discreet platform upstage center above the action, plays the accompaniments with perfect aplomb, never stealing focus. Brava bravissima!
The cunning set designed by scenic designer/technical director, JR Norman, is discretely divided into two apartments in what we might as well call New York, giving the actors plenty of room to roam in each other’s space. They move freely all over the set as they sing their sweet angsty songs, sometimes solo and sometimes together but not always in the same “space.” The actors come together with cuddly intimacy or with a bit of mild hostility, and leavened with plenty of Sondheim wit. And, of course, sexual yearnings and frustrations are always rife in a Sondheim show.
Many of the songs were new to me, but one I remembered very well—the naughty/nice “Boy Can That Boy Foxtrot!” Fo…….xtrot! So close and yet so far.
As always at ICT, the show is impeccably staged led by artistic director/producer caryn desai and directed by Kari Hayter, with Diane King Vann, music director; Donna Ruzika, lighting designer; Kim DeShazo, resident costume designer; Dave Mickey, sound designer; Patty and Gordon Briles, resident property designer; Anthony Gagliardi, resident hair and wig designer; Nicole Bernardini, associate scenic designer; John Freeland, Jr., production stage manager; and Sarah Dawn Lowry, assistant stage manager.
Marry Me a Little was created off-Broadway in 1980 by Craig Lucas and Norman René with Lucas starring as “the man.” Lucas went on to become one of America’s greatest playwrights earning many honors over the years. In 2001 Lucas received an Obie Award for his direction of Harry Kondoleon’s Saved or Destroyed at the Rattlestick Theater. He won the 2003 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay for The Secret Lives of Dentists. His Small Tragedy was awarded an Obie as Best American Play in 2004. Lucas’s other awards include the Excellence in Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award; and Outer Critics Circle, L.A. Drama Critics Circle, Drama-Logue and Lambda Literary Awards. Fellowships include those from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pew CharitableTrusts. He has received the Tony Award nomination for the books of: An American in Paris (2015), Light in the Piazza (2005) and Prelude to a Kiss. He was nominated for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Prelude to a Kiss.
For more information about Craig Lucas follow this Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Lucas
Marry Me A Little continues at International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802 through Sunday February 27 playing on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.