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Graham Phillips and Talia Suskauer lead cast of "Sunday in the Park with George" at Axelrod PAC

originally published: 02/04/2024

Graham Phillips and Talia Suskauer lead cast of "Sunday in the Park with George" at Axelrod PAC

(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- The Axelrod Performing Arts Center, in collaboration with Grind Arts Company, presents a bold new production of Stephen Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Sunday in the Park with George from March 8-24, 2024. The show is directed and choreographed by Eamon Foley (Broadway's Gypsy, Assassins, 13: The Musical) and starring TV and film star Graham Phillips (CBS's The Good Wife, CW's Riverdale) and Broadway's Talia Suskauer (Wicked's Elphaba). Music director Nate Patten (Broadway's Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, School of Rock) will conduct the 11-piece orchestra.

Sunday in the Park with George first appeared on Broadway in 1984 starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, with a book and direction by James Lapine.

“With Sondheim’s most personal and soaring score, Sunday remains the sentimental favorite of every Sondheim fan and yet it is rarely revived due to its auspicious demands,” says Axelrod’s Executive Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco. "We are thrilled to be partnering with Grind Arts to mount Eamon’s brilliant conceptualization of this musical, and we are certain that audiences will be awestruck with this staging that experiments with movement and light.”

Graham Phillips and Talia Suskauer lead cast of "Sunday in the Park with George" at Axelrod PAC

As a 9-year-old in the revival cast of Gypsy (with Bernadette Peters), Eamon Foley first encountered the score to Sunday.

“I’d never heard something that sounded like color surrounding you,” he said. “I discussed the musical with my mom who told me that she didn’t understand George, which broke my heart because I felt so connected to him.”



 
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Foley’s inspiration for this production has slowly evolved over the years.

“If Sondheim’s music felt like color coming to life, I thought maybe I could heighten that by bringing the music to life with dance,” he said.

After graduating from Princeton University he explored this idea, creating the short film Color and Light, which he shared with Sondheim before his passing in 2021.

The Axelrod production is the first time a live staging of this concept will happen: six beautiful dancers from the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) join the company to bring Foley’s vision to life. But Foley is not just choreographing dancers; he’s also choreographing lights, working with Broadway lighting designer Paul Miller (Legally Blonde, Amazing Grace). His inspiration for the visuals came while attending electronic music concerts.

“I’d see the choreography of moving lights and how they interacted with the music, and it struck me that that’s what the inside of George’s head might look like,” said Foley. “The goal with the light, as with the dance, is to be able to see the score take shape before you, and feel George’s passion.”

Graham Phillips and Talia Suskauer lead cast of "Sunday in the Park with George" at Axelrod PAC

Graham Phillips (shown above) makes his Axelrod debut as George, having recently played the role at the Tony Award-winning Pasadena Playhouse. Audiences will know Phillips from his breakout TV role as Zach Florrick, the son of Julianna Margulies’ character in The Good Wife. In addition to his role as Nick St. Clair in the CW’s Riverdale, he’s appeared in Universal's The Pact, Paramount's Staten Island Summer, Netflix's XOXO and Goats opposite David Duchovny, and The Little Prince at the Metropolitan Opera.

Talia Suskauer recently completed her run as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway and in the national tour. She also appeared in Be More Chill both on and Off Broadway and Ratatouille: The Tik Tok Musical along with Wayne Brady, Andre DeShields and Adam Lambert.



 
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“Getting the opportunity to play Dot in Sunday is a dream all on its own,” says Suskauer, “but getting to do it alongside Graham Phillips and with Eamon Foley at the helm makes it even dreamier.”

Graham Phillips and Talia Suskauer lead cast of "Sunday in the Park with George" at Axelrod PAC

The company also features Joy Hermalyn (Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof, Candide, Caroline, or Change) as the Old Lady, Asbury Park’s Bernard Dotson (Broadway’s Chicago, Ragtime, Paradise Square), Kevin Arnold, Giuliana Augello, Anthony Cataldo, Katie Davis, Bridget Gooley, James C. Harris, Isabel Lagana, Ella Mangano, Dylan Randazzo, and Allie Siebold. The AXCBT dancers include Giana Carroll, Alyssa Harris, Lindsay Jorgensen, Olivia Miranda, Sarah Takash and Gillian Worek.

The production team includes associate director-choreographer Devin Richey, lighting designer Paul Miller, sound designer Ian Wehrle, productions designer Brad Peterson, scenic designer Ryan Howell, costume designer DW, puppet designer Eric Wright of Puppet Kitchen International, prop designer Susan Bloir and production stage manager Shana Ferguson. DePrisco and Foley serve as co-producers. The show is being Executive Produced by David Zuckerman and produced by Katie Birenboim, Nancy Karpf, Midnight Theatricals, and Cason Crane and Fran McGill.

Tickets range from $32-65 and are available by calling 732-531-9106 ext. 14 or visiting www.axelrodartscenter.com. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Ave., Deal Park, just five minutes from downtown Asbury Park, with plenty of free parking.


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