'Marry Me a Little: A Stephen Sondheim Revue' speaks of loneliness, love and proximity

The stage play "Marry Me a Little" tells the story of two urban singles looking for something to do while cooped up in their apartments on a Saturday night. (Brian Bates Photography)

 It’s a Saturday night, and two urban singles are looking for something to do while cooped up in their own apartments. Merely Players presents “Marry Me a Little: A Stephen Sondheim Revue,” a production about heartache, loneliness and love. It’s on stage through Feb. 18 at the Doraville Civic Center. Scott Rousseau is the director, and he joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to gush over the lesser-known Sondheim gems celebrated in this production.

Interview highlights:

How a charming love story ties the works of Sondheim together:

“The show was put together as a showpiece for Sondheim’s ‘trunk songs,’ the songs that he has either cut from other shows, or were shows that were short-lived, or never got to see the light of day,” said Rousseau. “There’s no dialogue in the show whatsoever. It just takes you from moment to moment.”

He went on, “The premise is that there are two singles who are alone on a Saturday night; they’re neighbors. They’re not aware of each other, except they’ve seen each other in the window across the way… and so they exist through each other’s fantasies, really, in the show. They are in the same apartment per se, but they’re not. It’s just in their fantasies that they are together at times, but… we kind of watch a story arc as these two people go through a breakup with their other partners, and then they find that they’re alone on Flatbush Avenue on a Saturday stormy night, until they come to a conclusion that I’m not going to give away.”

Why “Marry Me a Little” might make for the perfect Valentines’ date:

“Sondheim was the king of relationships. Many of his shows, from ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘A Little Night Music,’ ‘Company,’ they’re all about relationships, people’s relationships. And so a lot of the cut songs are just about that, about relationships,” Rousseau explained. “They bring to life the tale, if you will, of these two folks in what it’s like to be in love, what it’s like to be alone, what it’s like to imagine having that perfect person in your life. There’s so much, there’s so much. The show is 75 minutes long, and it’s rich with words and stories. Each song is a story, and they’re all about life and love. They’re all about who you are as a person, and how you live, and how you fall in love, and how you fall out of love.”

Director Rousseau, a Sondheim fanatic, struggles to pick a favorite song:

“It was a bucket show for me to do, and I just love all of the music in the show. But I think if I had to choose some favorites, here’s an example. ‘Marry Me a Little,’ the song, was originally in ‘Company.’ It was cut from ‘Company.’ It is an amazing piece of work. It is a masterpiece, and yet Sondheim felt the need to replace it with ‘Being Alive’ – which basically says the same thing, but ‘Being Alive’ admittedly says it better,'” said Rousseau. “‘Happily Ever After’ was another version of this same song that was written for ‘Company’ and was cut… But I think one of my favorites is ‘Marry Me a Little.’ I love that song from the show. It is the title song. It’s a beautiful song.”

He added, “‘So Many People,’ there’s another beautiful song in the show. It’s just about the chance of meeting the one that you are in love with, and how it happens, and how you had expectations of that love, and then the person you fall in love with is not like that at all. It’s a totally different person, a totally different type of person, and I just think it speaks volumes. It’s a very wonderful, moving song, and I think it’s beautiful, and my two performers, I think, do a great job with it.”

“Marry Me a Little: A Stephen Sondheim Revue,” presented by Merely Players, is on stage at the Doraville Civic Center through Feb. 18. Tickets and more information are available here.