Tell Me on a Sunday, one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser-known works, is something rather different for New Line Theatre. It’s a song cycle, or, to put it slightly differently, a one-woman one-act musical.
It’s the story of Emma, a young British woman whose search for romance takes her from London to the United States. Sarah Porter, as Emma, handles Lloyd Webber’s fairly demanding music and the lyrics by Don Black and Richard Maltby, Jr., with ease. Her English accent sounds very good and its gradual disappearance as she stays in the States is easy and logical. Like opera, this sort of thing demands acting simultaneously with the singing and she’s clearly comfortable with that. It’s a satisfying performance on a number of levels.
Porter has also done costuming for a number of New Line productions, and she’s continued that here. A few of her costumes are part of Rob Lippert’s set that transitions from London to New York to Los Angeles and back to New York. His lighting punctuates the story well, and indeed is particularly notable.
The show has gone through a number of iterations since its opening in 1979. (And, no, it was not written for Sarah Brightman. In fact, its genesis was in a torrid affair by someone other than Lloyd Webber.) The score, while hidden in the glare from other Lloyd Webber works like Cats and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, is among his better works. The lyrics are often excellent, and not only in the delicious “Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad”, a tribute to California gleaming.
One might argue that the basic premise is dated, the story of a woman whose life seems to pivot around finding a man, the right man. To a degree, that’s true. But the belief is still not uncommon among young women today, whether they realize it or not. And the fact is, wanting someone to love and to love you is, simply, a very human sort of feeling. Who are we to be judgmental?
Tell Me on a Sunday
through August 27
3310 Samuel Shepherd Drive