Putting It Together

Lean on plot, but full of the work of one of musical theater's greatest lyricists


Through Aug. 14

Tickets are $36


SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (between Powell and Mason), S.F.

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Though it's essentially a revue of more than 30 Stephen Sondheim songs from his classic musicals (such as Follies, Company, and A Little Night Music), Putting It Together still tells the somewhat coherent (if thin) story of the intoxicating rush of new love juxtaposed against the ruts, infidelities, and boredom of an older relationship. Set at a ritzy cocktail party, the show is introduced by the tuxedoed usher (an infectiously entertaining Brian Yates Sharber), who instructs us via song to turn off our pesky cell phones, and pleads melodically, "Please don't fart. There's very little air, and this is art." This is Sondheim, of course, whose lyrical witticisms don't shy away from the wonderfully lewd and carnal. Mary-Pat Green stands out as the love-jaded older woman; sparks fly as she verbally clashes with the beautiful yet dim ingenue (Kate Del Castillo), with barbs such as, "She cannot sew, or cook, or read, or write her name — but she's lovely." Through the tunes we experience the seduction, chase, war, and eventual desperation that romantic love can induce. The ensemble of five, rounded out by Michael Brown and Jeff Leibow, lacks the chemistry required for a show that's this lean on plot; fortunately, we still have the irresistible intellectual wordplay of one of musical theater's greatest lyricists.

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