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Time Out Theater Review: "Marry Me A Little"

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The rarely-done Stephen Sondheim work "Marry Me a Little" is now playing off-Broadway. Time Out New York's David Cote filed the following report for NY1.

Over the past decade, fans of Stephen Sondheim have enjoyed revivals of practically all his major works. Next year, for example, Classic Stage Company will revive "Passion." Now, thanks to Keen Company, we can revisit a B-side Sondheim musical: the high-concept revue "Marry Me a Little," which gathers 19 songs cut from previous shows. The result is both familiar and delightfully surprising.

Originally conceived by playwright Craig Lucas and director Norman René in 1980, "Marry Me a Little" doesn’t play out like a regular book musical. Instead of dialogue, we have a situation: A nameless man and woman live in the same Brooklyn apartment building as neighbors. What they have in common is a defiant artistic streak and restless hearts.

Played by the sweetly charming Lauren Molina and Jason Tam, our lovelorn heroes stay in for the night, expressing various states of lust, yearning and heartbreak through songs cut from the scores of "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "Company" and others. While musically and lyrically these songs cover a broad range of styles, they fit marvelously well together, each sharing those touching Sondheim qualities: emotional wariness, brittle intellectualism, nostalgia and poignant hope.

Smartly and sensitively directed by Jonathan Silverstein, the acting might be a little brash and busy in the first few numbers but Molina and Tam achieve an emotional rawness and openness that wins you over completely.

One of the many semi-truths about Sondheim is that he integrated his songs so completely into the book, you can’t extract them as stand-alone tunes. "Marry Me a Little" proves that assumption wrong. Its solitary songs work on their own but also make for a happy marriage.

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