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Sondheim-inspired ‘Marry Me a Little’ at International City Theatre is musical magic

Nick Tubbs (left) and Katy Tang in International City Theatre’s “Marry Me a Little.” (Photo by Kayte Deioma Creative)

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim passed away last November, leaving a legacy of songs that cut—often sharply—to the heart of human relationships. Providing a timely sampling of his work, International City Theatre’s “Marry Me a Little” marries together 18 entertaining Sondheim songs from different musicals into one loosely connected but emotionally moving story.

Created by Craig Lucas and Norman René in 1980, “Marry Me a Little” is a 60-minute musical tale sung without dialogue involving a young man (Nick Tubbs) and woman (Katy Tang) who live in the same New York apartment building. Though the two never meet, they sing a number of duets “together,” metaphysically in different apartments while occupying the same set, with a bed that is half hers and half his.

The set—well designed by JR Norman Luker—features a fully detailed apartment plus an upstairs fire escape with plants, expanding the stage vertically for added visual interest. Nestled in the back is a piano, the duo’s sole instrumental accompaniment, gorgeously played by Diane King Vann.

As the man and woman bring home their respective groceries, including beer for him and white wine for her, they sing of how if you’re lonely on a “Saturday Night” you might as well be dead. Songs progress from there to “Two Fairy Tales”—humorously intermixing his and hers versions of their favorite stories—plus more than a dozen other numbers showcasing Sondheim’s tonal harmonies and clever, often bitingly observant, lyrics.

Tang and Tubbs are exceptionally talented singers and performers...

International City Theatre’s “Marry Me a Little” continues through Feb. 27 at the Beverly O’Neill Theater, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach, with shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The theatre will host a post-show talk-back with the cast on Sunday, Feb. 20. Tickets are $49 to $52 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (562) 436-4610 or visiting Proof of vaccination and mask-wearing is required.


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