Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's breathtaking musical Sunday in the Park with George remains on countless theatre fans' all-time top ten lists. It opened 31 years ago May 2, 1984. The piece imagines the figures from Georges Seurat's impressionist masterpiece "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" as full characters, and constructs a story around their imagined lives along with the life of Seurat himself. The first act tells the bittersweet love story of Dot and Seurat, while the second act imagines Seurat's modern-day descendent George in a moment of artistic crisis.
Ultimately, it is the incredibly complex and nuanced portrayal of relationships combined with an illuminating journey into the world of being an artist that has allowed Sunday in the Park with George to resonate with audiences and critics alike. It enjoyed a 604-performance run, and, in 1985, it became the fifth-ever musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Thanks to the production being filmed in its entirety for PBS and home video, appreciation for the piece has continued to spread to new generations of theatre fans who were unable to see it live in 1984.
The original cast of Sunday in the Park with George was filled with theatre stars and many well-loved performers closely associated with the musicals of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Several continued to enjoy successful stage careers, while others have gone on to notable roles on television and film. Let's take a look at where they all are today.
Flip through 16 production photos from Sunday in the Park below:
You probably remember Betsy Joslyn best as Johanna in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street; she replaced Sarah Rice in the original Broadway production and continued on to the national tour, which was immortalized for television and home video release. After being a standby in Sunday..., she eventually replaced original star Bernadette Peters and took over the role full-time. She went on to replace Peters again as the Witch in Into the Woods and appeared in the original productions of The Goodbye Girl and High Society on Broadway as well.
She now lives with her husband, conductor and pianist Mark Mitchell, in Croton, NY, and is next-door neighbors with Ann Hampton Callaway.
A Soldier/Alex, Georges/George Understudy
After Sunday in the Park with George, Robert Westenberg originated the roles of the Wolf and Cinderella's Prince in Into the Woods, for which he received a 1988 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. When Roundabout revived Company in 1995, he played Harry to Kate Burton's Sarah. He also appeared on Broadway in Les Misérables (Javert), The Secret Garden (Neville, opposite his Sunday... co-star Mandy Patinkin), Abe Lincoln in Illinois and the 1997 revival of 1776.
He now lives in Springfield, Missouri with his wife (Kim Crosby, who originated Cinderella in Into the Woods) and three children. He is the chair of the theatre department at Drury University and continues to perform occasionally with the St. Louis MUNY.
Though he went on to appear in Broadway productions of The Three Musketeers, Big River, 1776 (alongside Robert Westenberg) and Life x 3, Brent Spiner is best remembered to audiences today as Data from television's "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He began playing Data in 1987, and went on to reprise the role in several film and television continuations of the original series, as recently as 2005. After "Star Trek," his television career continued, appearing on such series as "Frasier," "Friends" "Alphas," "Warehouse 13" and "The Big Bang Theory," in which he portrayed himself. On the big screen, he appeared in "Phenomenon," "I Am Sam," "The Aviator" and "Independence Day." He is scheduled to reprise his role as Dr. Brakish Okun in "Independence Day 2," currently set to be released June 2016.
In 2009, he returned to musical theatre with a turn as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha at LA Reprise!
Parry again originated a role in a Sondheim/Lapine musical in 1994, appearing as Lieutenant Barri in the original cast of Passion. His next Broadway appearance was as Kringelein in the 2003 revival of Gypsy, alongside his Sunday... co-star Bernadette Peters. He also appeared in the 2005 Off-Broadway production of Flaherty and Ahren's Dessa Rose and Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Road Show at the Public in 2008.
Outside of Broadway, Parry has been a prolific actor in the regional scene, appearing in productions of Company and High Button Shoes, among many others. He portrayed Mr. Simmons in the national tour of Memphis in 2011. He also participated in a 2011 workshop of the now-Broadway-bound musical Allegiance, but the role he portrayed was subsequently deleted.
Nancy Opel has had a prolific Broadway career since appearing in Sunday in the Park with George. Her long list of credits include Anything Goes, Triumph of Love, Urinetown (for which she received a Tony nomination), the 2004 revival of Fiddler on the Roof, Memphis, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and this season's Honeymoon in Vegas, in which she hilariously played Rob McClure's late but ever-present mother.
Opel also works as an audition coach and photographer. She lives in Manhattan with her daughter.
Louis/Billy, Georges/George Replacement
Before Sunday..., Cris Groenendaal played Anthony to Betsy Joslyn's Johanna on Broadway and national tour in Sweeney Todd. Like Joslyn, he was in the production when it was filmed for home video release. After Sunday..., he originated the role of opera house co-owner Monsieur André in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, later replacing Michael Crawford in the title role as well. He also appeared in the original production of Sondheim and Lapine's Passion and in the 1996 revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, playing Miles Gloriosus opposite Nathan Lane as Pseudolus. In 1998, he played Father in the national tour of Ragtime and in 2002 he revisited to Sunday in the Park with George as Jules in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Festival production.
Groenendaal has largely left musical theatre now, but still appears occasionally in concerts and pops performances, often alongside wife and pianist Sue Anderson. He lives in Croton, NY.
Danielle Ferland found great success as a child actress in several 1980s Sondheim shows; she made her Broadway debut at 13 in Sunday in the Park with George, originated Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods (winning a Theatre World award and receiving a Drama Desk nomination) and played Frederika in the 1990 New York City Opera production of A Little Night Music.
She has continued performing in recent years, appearing on Broadway in 2003's A Year with Frog and Toad and the 2008 revival of All My Sons. In 2012, she got the opportunity to revisit Into the Woods at the Westport Country Playhouse, though this time she took on the role of the Baker's Wife. In 2014, she portrayed Estelle in HBO's TV movie adaptation of "The Normal Heart." She also frequently teaches masterclasses and works as a director, including a production of A Year With Frog and Toad at Boston Children's Theatre.
Dana Ivey has enjoyed a prolific career on stage and screen. In 1984, she was concurrently nominated in two separate Tony Award categories: Best Featured Actress in a Play for Heartbreak House and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Sunday in the Park with George. She created the title role in the original Off-Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy, winning an Obie Award. More recently, she's appeared in Broadway revivals of The Importance of Being Earnest, Butley, The Rivals and Henry IV.
On film, Ivey memorably played the Mayor's wife in 1985's "The Color Purple," while also appearing in "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," "The Addams Family" and "The Help," amongst many others. She also frequently works as a reader of audio books.
Born in London, Barbara Bryne made her Broadway debut in Sunday in the Park with George after many years of successful performing in Canada and on film, including 1982's "Amadeus." She joined many of her Sunday... co-stars in the original Broadway production of Into the Woods, in which she played Jack's Mother. She subsequently played Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Kennedy Center Sondheim Festival in 2002 and appeared as Queen Victoria in a 2011 production of H.M.S. Pinafore at the Guthrie.
Though Charles Kimbrough has had a prolific career on the stage that includes the original production of Company, you probably know him best today as Jim Dial on television's "Murphy Brown." He played the role from 1988 until the series ended in 1998. Afterwards, he revived his stage career with Broadway appearances in Accent on Youth, The Merchant of Venice and, most recently, Roundabout's 2012 revival of Harvey.
He shares the distinction (along with Robert Westenberg and Kim Crosby) of having married a Sondheim original-cast co-star; Beth Howland, Company's original Amy, is his wife.
Bernadette Peters was already an established star when she joined the cast of Sunday in the Park with George; she'd already appeared on Broadway in George M!, the 1971 revival of On the Town and Mack & Mabel. She'd also had some high-profile film roles, appearing opposite Steve Martin in 1979's "The Jerk" and winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for 1981's "Pennies From Heaven."
Her performance as Dot and Marie in Sunday... earned her her third Tony Award nomination, and in 1986 she won her first Tony statue for her performance in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance. She appeared alongside several of her co-stars from Sunday... in Into the Woods, creating the role of the Witch. After an appearance in 1993's The Goodbye Girl, she stuck to high-profile Broadway revivals, including Annie Get Your Gun (for which she won her second Tony Award), Gypsy and A Little Night Music. Her most recent Broadway appearance was as the lovelorn and tragically lost Sally Durant Plummer in Follies, in which she delivered the heartbreaking Act 2 torch song, "Losing My Mind."
In addition to her stage appearances and busy concert career, Peters has had a successful career on television. She appeared on episodes of "Will & Grace," "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit," "Ugly Betty" and "Smash." Most recently, she portrayed Gloria, the chairwoman of the orchestra board, in Amazon Studios' streaming series "Mozart in the Jungle," which has been picked up for a second season set to premiere in early 2016.
Apart from performing, Peters contributes to several charitable efforts. In 1999, she co-founded Broadway Barks along with Mary Tyler Moore. Every year, they hold an annual animal "adopt-a-thon" in New York City. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDs.
Sunday in the Park with George was Mandy Patinkin's first Broadway appearance after winning the 1980 Best Featured Actor Tony Award for his portrayal of Che in Evita. His performance as the conflicted and artistic Georges earned him strong reviews and a 1984 Tony nomination for Best Actor. After Sunday..., Patinkin returned to film roles. He'd already appeared in "Yentl" and "Ragtime," and in 1987 he made a memorable performance as Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride." He portrayed 88 Keys in "Dick Tracy," which also featured Madonna singing songs penned by Stephen Sondheim.
In 1991, Patinkin returned to Broadway as Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden. A year later he replaced Michael Rupert as Marvin in William Finn's Falsettos. His most recent non-concert Broadway appearance was Michael John LaChiusa's The Wild Party in 2000, in which he played Burrs and earned another Tony nomination.
Patinkin has been most active on television in recent years. He played Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on "Chicago Hope" from 1994 to 2000, which he followed up with "Dead Like Me" from 2003-2004. From 2005-07, he was Jason Gideon on "Criminal Minds." Most recently, he portrayed Saul Berenson on the wildly successful drama "Homeland," which recently finished its fourth season on Showtime.
In between his many tenures on television shows, he has kept up his concert career. He has appeared in five separate Broadway concert events and in 2011 he and his Evita co-star appeared in a duet concert evening entitled An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. Combined with his seven solo albums, theatre fans have been able to see Patinkin's theatrical side even if he's been spending most of his time acting for television. Perhaps it's time Broadway got Patinkin back!
And now, for a little bonus entry. Kelsey Grammer
A soldier/Alex (Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons)
Before Robert Westenberg, the role of the Soldier was played by a then-little-known Kelsey Grammer during the workshop Off-Broadway run of Sunday... at Playwrights Horizons in 1983. Soon thereafter, Kelsey Grammer was cast as Dr. Frasier Crane on TV's "Cheers," making him unavailable for the 1984 Broadway transfer. He played Frasier on both "Cheers" and the spin-off series "Frasier" until the latter completed its run in 2004. Since then, he's appeared in several other television series, including "Back to You," "Hank," "Boss" and "Partners."
After he found fame on television, Grammer also started making stage appearances. In 1999, he played the title role in Sweeney Todd opposite Christine Baranski for LA Reprise! He appeared on Broadway in a 2000 revival of Macbeth and in the 2004 television adaptation of Lynn Ahrens and Menken's "A Christmas Carol." In 2010, he portrayed Georges in most-recent revival of La Cage Aux Folles, and he is currently appearing at the Lunt-Fontanne theatre as Charles Frohman and Captain James Hook in the brand new musical Finding Neverland.
(Logan Culwell is a musical theatre historian, Playbill's manager of research and curator of Playbill Vault. Please visit LoganCulwell.com.)