19 November 2020

Marry Me A Little - Barn Theatre Virtual Review.

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester continues its fantastic catalogue of work this year, despite the challenges thrown at them. The theatre is now streaming its production of Stephen Sondheim's Marry Me A Little. The one-act musical revue, unfortunately, had its on-stage run cut short by the second English lockdown but has been superbly captured for a virtual audience.


Celinde Schoenmaker and Rob Houchen. Photo: Eve Dunlop


The piece tells the tale of two single people in New York, both in their respective flats, who share their imaginations, yearnings about a potential relationship, and what they'd said each other if they were to meet. The pair never do meet and it's that 'what could have been' that is the main take away from this sung-through production. It's a timely piece all about connection.


Rob Houchen and Celinde Schoenmaker are simply outstanding. Both manage to develop these characters really well in such a short amount of time (the running time is under an hour). They are warm, touching and enchanting. Their voices are perfectly fit these Sondheim numbers. Here are two performers so at ease with their craft, they're a delight to watch.


Celinde Schoenmaker. Photo: Eve Dunlop

As with any score written by Sondheim, it's exquisite musically. The score takes 'cut' songs from A Little Night Music, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Company, Anyone Can Whistle and from the yet to be staged Saturday Night from an idea by Craig Lucas and Norman RenĂ©. Whilst these numbers may have been cut from other Sondheim shows it certainly doesn't lessen their quality. As you'd expect they're brilliant numbers and with Houchen and Schoenmaker's vocal strength and skill it's a delight throughout. Credit to must go to musical director Arlene McNaught for further making the music sound fantastic with strong piano work.


Director Kirk Jameson has really captured the right feeling with this production along with Gregor Donnelly's superb design which clearly distinguishes the two apartments that are separated by the middle of the stage which runs through the sofas in both. There's a great use of a screen on the back wall which shows photos of New York and of the pair, text messages and more. The projection design by Benjamin Collins enhances the character and plot development. There's effective lighting designed by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner.


Rob Houchen. Photo: Eve Dunlop

Marry Me A Little is right up there with the best work that the Barn Theatre has produced since the venue opened in 2018. It's a lovely watch. Long may this venue continue to create outstanding work such as this revival. Two world-class performers with gorgeous music. Magnificent.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


Marry Me A Little streams from the Barn Theatre's website from Thurs 19th to Sunday 22nd November. To purchase a virtual ticket visit https://barntheatre.org.uk/

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