Marry Me A Little started life in 1980 as collection of songs either cut from other Sondheim musicals, or from shows that were never produced. Similar to Putting It Together, which followed some 12 years later, it strings these previously unconnected songs in a simple plot. In this case, the emotional hopes and fears of two single people passing yet another lonely Saturday night in their New York apartments.
Since the original off-Broadway production, there were productions in London and at the York Theatre which augmented the song list, but this Edwards Theatre production on the Fringe goes back to the original with very minor alterations to the running order and just one cut.
By their very nature, having been discarded from other work, the songs aren't always Sondheim's best; but there are also fine gems in here too. Pour Le Sport, originally in the unproduced The Last Resorts is a wonderful example of Sondheim's lyrical genius, and Your Eyes Are Beautiful, which was cut from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is an exquiste song, which rarely gets heard. And that's the point. Shows like Marry Me A Little are an opportunity for Sondheim fans (for we are many!) to watch live performances of material that doesn't often show up. It's one of those shows I've had on my iPod forever, just waiting for the chance to see it on stage.
All the songs are delivered by just two performers, Wayne Rodgers and Nikki Pocklington. Rodgers was an absolutely joy to watch, his warm and powerful voice really handling this material with ease. Pocklington, on the other hand, seemed to struggle with the high stuff at first, and wasn't really filling the room as well as Rodgers until she more than redeemed herself with a knockout rendition of the title song, Marry Me A Little.
There's some great little details in the direction, like, for instance, the use of the meat tenderiser in Bang! and the clever lighting and set design (which is pretty impressive for a Fringe performance). If you like Sondheim, snap up a ticket.