‘Marry Me A Little’, The Melody of Melancholia Plays at International City Theatre

By Ernest Kearney  —  In many ways, Marry Me a Little, in its final weeks at Long Beach’s International City Theatre is, perhaps, the most bittersweet of all Stephen Sondheim’s shows.

The case may be made for this distinction for a variety of reasons.

The nature of the show is not the least of them.  A man (Nick Tubbs) and a woman (Katy Tang), live in the same New York apartment complex.  They are aware of the other’s existence and have even fantasized about the possibilities of their meeting, and of the possibilities that spring forth from that possible encounter.

Their dreams and fantasies are not very different from each other’s; for that matter, they’re not very different from yours or mine.

They desire what we all do, and by all I mean, here, the whole human race.  They want to be part of something. They want to end their isolation. They want to be loved.

As staged by Director Kari Hayter, their realities are so identical they share the identical apartment but are just unaware of the other.  They are each other’s ghost, haunting one another.

And as their dreams are identical, so are their fears. 

This is perhaps Sondheim’s point; that all we each hope for in this life, is right in front of us, all we have to do is reach out and take possession of what we desire. 

But our fears and self doubts, the same ones shared by every soul on this planet, impede our actions. Thus our own fears betray our own hopes, and the two souls transform into each others’ doppelganger.  The German banshee, who when met, is the messenger of one’s impending death.

On one level the show is asking if romance can survive under the weight of modernity’s reality, and on another level, it’s asking if musical theatre can survive under the onslaught of today’s bloated budgeted production and astronomical ticket prices. 

Another aspect contributing to the melancholy nature of this, is the fact that this musical is Sondheim’s very own Frankenstein monster sewn together from his dead children.

The songs that Marry Me a Little is composed of are tunes Sondheim was forced, for one reason or another, to cut from his other shows; Anyone Can Whistle, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and others.

There are seven from Follies, considered by some to be Sondheim’s masterpiece.

While the set here, designed by JR Norman Luker, exceeds the demands of this production, Hayter and Musical Director Diane King Vann have provided the type of high caliber entertainment for which ICT has a reputation for delivering to its audiences.

Tubbs is the standout performance of the two, while Tang loses a fair amount of clarity in her high tone rendering of the numbers. 

Running barely over 55 minutes, Marry Me a Little, still manages to convey a great many ideas to its audiences.  Not the least of which is you can either live life or lose it by fearing it.  And as Sondheim shows us, the right answer is hardly rocket science.

(Featured in Image: In ‘ Marry Me A Little’ at the ICT is Nick Tubbs and Katy Tang (Photo by Kayte Deioma Creative)


Marry Me a Little


 • Thursday – 8 p.m., February 24
• Friday 8 p.m., February 25
• Saturday – 8 p.m., February 26
• Sunday 2 p.m., February 27



Long Beach Performing Arts Center

330 East Seaside Way

Long Beach, CA 90802


For Tickets and Information:
562-436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.org


Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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