Regional Reviews: San Francisco
A Charming Production of Stephen Sondheim's
There have been a number of versions of Marry Me a Little, including a gay version I saw last year at the Eureka Theatre presented by Theatre Rhinoceros, with two male actors and an emphasis on same-sex love and marriage.
Director Robert Kelley now uses a concept that was used by Alan Ayckbourn in How the Other Half Loves: although the two characters, Him and Her, live in separate apartments, one above the other, they are completely unmindful of each other. Included are many 21st century props and references, such as iPads, laptops and a Wii video game console where each play video golf to the tune of "Pour le Sport" from the unproduced The Last Resorts. Also included is a long, beautiful overture expertly played by William Liberatore on the piano while we watch Him riding his bicycle down the aisle of the theatre approaching the good-looking studio set designed by Bruce McLeod and Her walking down another aisle with an armful of packages.
Sharon Rietkerk (TheatreWorks' Little Women and The Secret Garden) and A.J. Shively (Broadway La Cage aux Folles and Brigadoon, national tour of The Sound of Music) are perfect in the roles of Her and Him. Both have melodious voices and handle the Sondheim melodies beautifully. Each emotional distinction is clear but effortless. Sharon Rietkerk shines on "There Won't Be Trumpets" and "Marry Me a Little" while Shively bounces about the stage giving a vibrant rendition of the cynical song "Happily Ever After" and the rapid-pace "Uptown, Downtown." The duets "Two Fairy Tales" and "So Many People" are a joy to hear.
Marry Me a Little plays through June 29th, 2014, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View. For tickets visit www.TheatreWorks.org or call 650-463-1960. Coming next will be the world premiere of David West Read's The Great Pretender opening on July 9 and running through August 3rd at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto.