Conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene, MARRY ME A LITTLE strings together Sondheim songs into a musical necklace which will delight Sondheim fans everywhere. Sondheim’s “songs that got away” are reborn into a bittersweet musical taking his lesser known songs and weaving them into their own special story. First performed off-Broadway in 1980, this Sondheim revue has found favor in regional theaters across the country.
In a dialog-free plot, MARRY ME A LITTLE tells the tale of two lonely singles in New York, each trapped on Saturday-date night in his own small apartment dreaming about a different evening shared with someone special. Just maybe they might actually meet – but each is simply too afraid to try. Katy Tang is the woman without a name, while Nick Tubbs plays the nameless man – both probably unable to cast even a vague shadow on the New York singles scene. But, oh, how they long to meet that particular someone who will light up their lives. Throughout the musical evening, pianist Diane King Vann keeps the tuneful songs in counterpoint as she plays melodies which are often quite different from the singer’s and yet seem to fit right in.
With Sondheim’s melodies and lyrics and the professional flowing voices of the two leads, MARRY ME A LITTLE is entertaining and charming. Karl Hayter skillfully helms this lovely salute to Stephen Sondheim, a musical virtuoso who single-handedly transformed musical theater in America and died in November 2021 at the age of 91. JR Norman Luker has created a delectable setting for the show – even allowing for a quick trip to the roof of the New York high rise. Donna Buzika’s lighting, Kim DeShazo’s costumes, and Dave Mickey’s sound offer the perfect setting for the melodious jewel.
MARRY ME A LITTLE will definitely please audience members who love music – and lots of it – by a master musical magician like Sondheim, a man whose reputation and influence cannot be overestimated. The direction is tight. The voices are heavenly. The setting is perfect. The only possible shortcoming is the plot, which is barely there. It might almost have been better for Lucas and Rene to simply showcase Sondheim’s many hits and forget about trying to tell a coherent story with Sondheim’s lesser known pieces. For a musical giant with so much to offer audiences, focusing on his lesser tunes seems a waste of some spectacular music. That issue aside, MARRY ME A LITTLE is a feast for the eyes and ears – and has a lot to offer in talent and creativity.
MARRY ME A LITTLE runs through February 27, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802. Tickets range from $49 to $52. For information and reservations, call 562-436-4610 or go online. Proof of vaccination and the use of masks indoors is required.