Marry Me A Little’ is a number that was originally cut from Stephen Sondheims Company (although now reinstated) and is also the title of a revue of Sondheims songs, conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene. Rarely produced in London, Marry Me A Little is currently enjoying a limited run in the studio space of St James Theatre. Its an intimate space, ideal for a small-scale piece such as this.

The numbers in this show are all songs that were originally cut from Sondheim shows, unlikely to be familiar to anyone but the most fervent aficionados. Three numbers are also included from the show Saturday Night that hadnt been produced at the time that Marry Me A Little was originally staged off off Broadway. So there are rarely heard numbers from some of the great Sondheim shows such as Follies, A Little Night Music and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, performed by Laura Pitt-Pulford and Simon Bailey – as an unnamed ‘Woman’ and ‘Man’. The action takes place against the backdrop of an apartment in New York City (featuring a settee and white bookshelves containing related props). Originally, these two people were single strangers in two apartments a floor apart, but in Hannah Chissick’s production here they have both inhabited the flat at one time together, as a couple. The story arc that is conveyed through the songs is that this couple, who have had happy moments yet lost a lot of themselves along the way, are separating, with one of them left in the flat and the other leaving. This can be difficult to follow at times as it sometimes goes back in time, and because of the lack of a narrative or script to punctuate the songs. The sightlines in the cramped space are also poor, meaning that audience members sitting towards the back can’t see the full staging and nuances, although the production does move at a good pace.

Pitt-Pulford and Bailey who incidentally I last saw in large scale productions of Hello Dolly and Phantom of the Opera respectively – work hard to bring the material to life despite this lack of clear narrative. Pitt-Pulford, a real name to watch, is an actress who conveys character and situation through her songs, always truthful and in the moment as a woman who gradually gets stronger throughout the piece. In this personal and private story, she scores highly with her solo versions of the title number, the beautiful The Girls of Summer and the heartbreaking There Wont Be Trumpets, a number reinstated in Sondheims early flop Anyone Can Whistle. Although not as strong an actor, Bailey has an assuredness and directness to his performance, bringing secure vocals to such numbers as the ironic Uptown, Downtown, cut from Follies and Happily Ever After from Company, which although cut, slightly echoes the more well known number that replaced it, Being Alive.   Both actors excel in their duets, particularly the title number from the aforementioned Saturday Night and that shows beautiful and melodic So Many People, along with Pour Le Sport from an unproduced Sondheim show and the energetic ‘Bang’ from A Little Night Music. And strong support is offered from musical director David Randall, who provides sensitive accompaniment throughout, allowing the pure vocals of the performers to be heard to their best advantage.

At an hour long, its no wonder that Marry Me A Little has maybe been produced less than some of the more well-known Sondheim revues, but this melancholic tale of loneliness and lost love is a welcome diversion for fans of the great man, and for those open to experiencing rarely heard material in a different context.