It’s a musical that follows Georges Seurat, the French 19th-century artist who was best known for his pointillist painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” The musical is about what you gain and sacrifice as an artist, and how to be an artist when you don’t feel like there’s anything left for you to make.
After watching the first act, I’ll be honest — I wasn’t sold on Sondheim. I went out for intermission, and I start talking with friends who felt the same way. We just didn’t get it, you know? The music was at times semi-atonal, and the show was light on plot. It was more about the psychological exploration of characters, and I wasn’t used to that.
But when I watched the second act, I was completely jolted. Suddenly you’re thrust into present day (1984) and all of the actors are playing new characters. The character who played Seurat is now playing his great-grandson, also an artist named George. I had thought of the show as a period piece, but all of a sudden it was like a time-traveling, abstract work that took on an entirely new dimension.
RACHELLE: What are your favorite lines from this musical?
LUKE: The song that always gets me is “Move On.” In the second act, the modern-day George is struggling with the feeling that he can’t make any new art. Dot, Seurat’s love interest from the first act, appears and tells him that he needs to “Just keep moving on / Anything you do / Let it come from you / Then it will be new / Give us more to see.”
To me, it’s a song about art being what you make when you continue to move forward. The act of worrying about whether your work is different or special enough is anathema to a life in art.
RACHELLE: What did you feel when you heard he died?
LUKE: I usually do not feel a lot of things when celebrities die, but I really lost it with Sondheim.
I think his work has been an important part of me becoming an adult. It’s like his songs are actually a part of my worldview now. He informed things about me that are deeply private — that go to the core of who I am. So yeah, I felt a lot of grief, but also gratitude and grace.