Jake Gyllenhaal takes on Sondheim, but he’s not arriving until 2021 now.
The West End stage is something of a pilgrimage for lauded American actors, and another one was planning to make the trip this summer. Jake Gyllenhaal, of enviably handsome face and tricky-to-spell surname, will take the lead role in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park With George – or as it’ll now be known, Sunday in the Park With Jake. The musical had been due to arrive this summer, but with the coronavirus outbreak closing West End theatres, the show has now sadly been delayed until 2021.
When the show eventually arrives, it’ll be only the second time Gyllenhaal has tread the boards in London, having made his debut in 2002 and not returning since. (We’ll assume it’s nothing personal.) It’s also the second time he’ll take this role; the London version of Sunday in the Park With George is a transfer of the Broadway production of 2017, in which Gyllenhaal made his musical debut.
Presumably to make up for his twenty year absence from our stages, Gyllenhaal will play two roles in the musical. In Act 1, he’s French artist Georges Seurat, obsessing over the painting that will eventually become ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ – also known as the painting which so traumatises Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – at the expense of his lover Dot (Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford, also reprising her role from 2017).
By Act 2, he’s a different George, a slightly neurotic sculptor and inventor of the 1980s, and a great-grandson of the painter. Boasting songs such as ‘Finishing the Hat’ and ‘Chromolume’, Sunday in the Park With George won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985, and continues Sondheim’s recent London tear, even by the man’s vaunted standards. Follies has had two successful runs at the National Theatre, and Marianne Elliott’s wonderful reimagining of Company took a final bow back in March 2019.
A new date for the musical hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’ll be opening at the Savoy Theatre and we’ll endeavour to keep you updated as soon as we get some dates and new ticket info. If you’re planning ahead, I’d recommend seeing it on a Sunday, just to be meta – and bring a pal named George, if you can!
Also published on Medium.