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In praise of Penny Fuller
Last Edit: Delvino 07:58 pm EDT 04/16/17
Posted by: Delvino 07:50 pm EDT 04/16/17

MILD SPOILERS (staging)

So much has been written about this exquisite revival of "Sunday in the Park...", it's impossible to weigh in without redundancy. But 3/4 of the way through the first act, in which Gyllenhaal and Ashford offer such emotionally layered work, the show turns yet another corner when Fuller gives us -- for my money -- a definitive "Beautiful." Placed downstage on the lip of the playing area, the song is a small master class in nuance and focus. And maybe just trusting a song. Fuller has never given a performance quite like this one in NY (I realize, Madame Armfeldt in regional) -- she's lost in the part, in the best sense -- and it's all the more notable for being in perfect sync with the ensemble nature of the piece. She's effortlessly a part of a magnificent whole, and then suddenly just a glittering standalone element. I've seen almost everything she's done in NYC since 1971, but her performance here is another very special thing to note and cheer in this gorgeous production.

I'd also add: Ashford's Marie -- that perfect southern accent, so perfect the audience is genuinely startled for a moment, realizing it's our Dot -- the best one I've seen. Nothing twee or precious, her eyes steadfastly refuse to twinkle with old-lady wisdom. Her "Children and Art," one of Sondheim's jewels (and fairly definitive with its first interpreter, Peters) is just heartbreaking. She and Gyllenhaal earn every kudo. A week before closing -- I was there this lovely Easter -- this production is simply breathtaking.
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