Picks and Pans Review: Marry Me a Little

updated 06/11/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Original Cast

For Stephen Sondheim, love is best subject and worst enemy. In his 17 shows, he has elevated amorous ambivalence to an art, and this revue traces the paralysis that afflicts any Sondheim character cursed by Cupid.

This just-reissued musical revue, first staged in 1980, has a plot, but no dialogue. On the skeletal story of two lonely New Yorkers hangs a potpourri of some of Sondheim's most bittersweet ballads and comical recitations of love's pearls and perils. What was a flimsy bit of stage business, with many songs recycled rejects, makes a treasure of an album. The title song was the melancholy ending of Company until it got replaced by the upbeat "Being Alive." "Can That Boy Foxtrot!"—cut from "Follies"—is Sondheim savoring sexual innuendo.

"Two Fairy Tales," a duct about love in fantasyland, sums up Sondheim's perspective: A young woman sings about a princess in love, while her male counterpart recalls a godforsaken prince. As this show proves, Sondheim can expound on the virtues and villainy of love in the same show, sometimes the same song. (RCA Victor)

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