He was responsible for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and many other fabulous musicals that won Tony Awards, including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, Grammy Awards and an Oscar. There’s nothing that Stephen Sondheim can’t do. The Impro Theatre perfectly organized their ode to the Sondheim magic. As part of their unscripted series, an artist with a huge body of work gets chosen and the theatre company performs their improv mojo going with subjects thrown out by the audience, Sondheim Unscripted joins in with Shakespeare Unscripted, Dickens Unscripted and Jane Austen Unscripted. Each show is different from the last. No show is alike which the purpose of the Unscripted Series is.
Directed by Dan O’Connor and co-directed by Michele Spears are mad geniuses in choosing which artist to celebrate and to move forward with audience suggestions on the topic. In one production, the hysterical Lisa Fredrickson yelled out for suggestions and got “My dog died.” How can anyone make fun out of the death of a beloved death and still maintain their dignity? The Impro crew did it and did it exceptionally well. In the lead as Myron the dog is hysterical actor Brian Jones.
He’s been sent down from Heaven to do a good deed, so he can get his doggie wings. He’s winds up in the needy arms of a woman (Edi Patterson) who longs for companionship. It’s hysterical the way Patterson is being heartfelt and sincere in looking for someone to love and she has Myron at her feet barking, whimpering and giving her extremely long licks. It is one funny moment to the next. As Myron’s, presence becomes known. He gets a television interview and saves his owner with lots and lots of long strokes of his rapid tongue. O’Connor delivers his deadpan lines that it’s hard not to crack up. He would take a solemn moment and turn it into a comedy club bit. At one point, he turns junk food into precious gems. It’s the way, he says, that makes it enjoyable.
Meanwhile, Gabriel the archangel has a drinking problem, Myron has a conversation with Satan and it is revealed that Myron had a checkered past. Soon, cute, little Myron will be exposed on the gossip rag television show TMZ.
The second half of the show is “The Devil and God.” A fitting ending after the hell of a ride the audience experienced earlier. Just like its compatriot, the second half is just as entertaining. There’s a gospel music scene where Gabriel tries to get Myron to stop destroying things. The cast joins in on the song You Better Work”. He gets a TV deal with the show “The Human Licker.” As Gabriel appropriately said: The road to hell is paved with good TV contracts.” It comes down to Myron, Satan and Gabriel and a baby that Myron must kill. A sudden hush looms the air as Myron decides.
But hey! It’s a Sondheim play, nothing bad ever happens in his world. What does happen is that for two full hours, with the necessary break in between, is the most uproarious, side-splitting laughter till you drop show that sticks with you after it’s over.