A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair
Revues of Stephen Sondheim songs generally don’t work. Given how carefully integrated his songs are into the shows for which they were originally written, they lose impact in a different context.
Yet “A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair,” which marks an unusual collaboration between Sondheim and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, manages to provide a great deal of vibrant entertainment thanks to a first-rate orchestra and some phenomenal vocalists.
As directed by John Doyle, the revue revolves around four nameless individuals (Bernadette Peters, Cyrille Aimée, Norm Lewis, Jeremy Jordan) as they wander around New York and in and out of love affairs.
In addition to the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra, the performers are backed by dancers who are intended to represent their emotions, and shifting projections of Manhattan on a large screen.
Peters, a true Sondheim diva, expertly sinks her teeth into “Broadway Baby” from “Follies” and “The Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company.” However, it is Jeremy Jordan who steals the show, lending his tremendous voice to “Losing My Mind” from “Follies” and “Giants in the Sky” from “Into the Woods.”
The enterprise looks and feels very classy. The dancers and the projections can be distracting and the narrative template is generic and uninteresting. But given the strength of the new jazz arrangements, this deserves to be reworked or at least recorded.