6th November 2023
Theatre productions up and down the country were forced to close early as the nation was plunged into a month long national lockdown; however, many theatres refused to let this be the end of major productions. One of these theatres, unsurprisingly after successful online streams of Henry V and What A Carve Up, was the Barn Theatre with their production of Stephen Sondheim’s lesser known musical Marry Me A Little. The musical is about two ex-lovers who long for relationship one night in their separate apartments.
The musical was conceived by Craig Lucas and Norman René, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It is made up of songs that were previously cut from other works from Sondheim. The music is beautiful although perhaps not quite as memorable as some of the composer’s more iconic works, which is somewhat unsurprising. The show is sung through and it can, at times, feel confusing and unclear as to who these characters are and what’s actually happened in their lives.
Kirk Jameson directs the production. His staging, with Sam Spencer-Lane’s musical staging helps to make the production engaging and entertaining. Gregor Donnelly’s set design is great for such a small venue. It clearly differentiates the two apartments but creates the idea that these two characters haven’t been able to fully let go of each other. Benjamin Collins’ projection design is brilliant and brings the show into the modern day. The projection also helps to portray who these characters are, with the inclusion of text conversations and dating apps. Arlene McNaught is musical director for this show and is the only musician playing piano. I never noticed there was only one instrument being played so credit to McNaught’s exceptional musical ability.
Marry Me A Little has a cast of two and is performed by West End stars Rob Houchen and Celinde Schoenmaker. Houchen is funny and likeable while Schoenmaker is sexy and strong. They both deliver exceptional vocal performances, which make the production fully worth watching. Their voices work brilliantly together. Schoenmaker’s numbers are particular highlights of the show, with her getting to demonstrate her classical singing abilities as well as her very strong belt.
Marry Me A Little is a beautiful little piece of theatre, featuring two of the West End’s best performers. Although it isn’t Sondheim’s best musical, it is definitely worth a watch and fills a gap whilst theatres remain closed.
Tickets are available through the Barn Theatre’s website, priced at £13.50 each. Performances run from 19th November until 22nd November.