What is it about?

The Chromolume –– the light machine that appears in the second act of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Sunday in the Park with George –– reflects both historical understandings of the relationship between art, science, and light and contemporary uses of theatrical technology. This piece treats the Chromolume both as a work of art (color painting / light art) within the narrative and on the stage. This article explores how two different productions of Sunday (the original 1984 production and the 2017 Broadway revival) construct the Chromolume.

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Why is it important?

I demonstrate two central ideas. First, the American musical is intertwined with science and technology –– the theater is a site of scientific knowledge creation and technological innovation. Second, the interplay between technology and narrative are nuanced and can give us insight into a creative process, a design process, and historical influences.


This piece includes a number of primary interviews with creatives involved in designing two Chromolumes. In turn, I hope readers appreciate the opportunity to hear from the designers and how they approached their work –– along with some historical context and broader understandings of color art that can inform one's approach to Sunday in the Park.

Jeffrey Rubel
University of Cambridge

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Colour and light: Colour theory and mechanization in Sunday in the Park with George’s Chromolume, Studies in Musical Theatre, July 2021, Intellect, DOI: 10.1386/smt_00062_1.
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