A recent vacation included a Wednesday afternoon spent in the impressive museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. While my favorite artwork there is probably Toby Edward Rosenthal’s “Elaine,” one of the museum’s most famous images is George Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” Seurat’s masterwork is captivating, larger than expected in real life, demanding close-up study of its tiny dots, and also contemplation from afar while sitting on the benches in the center of the gallery where it is displayed.
Certainly, many things have inspired musicals, but perhaps there is only one based on a painting: James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George.” As Thomas Hischak writes, “Luckily, George Seurat’s masterpiece had plenty of characters and lots of possibilities and the authors had an open canvas, so to speak, to work on.”
Check out the original cast of “Sunday in the Park with George” starring Chicago-born Mandy Patinkin and adorable Bernadette Peters or the 2006 London cast. Or if you want to perform the songs yourself, we have the vocal score and selections. Finally, watch it on DVD. Then perhaps you’ll be inspired to do the reverse and paint a painting based on the musical!