Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed and Choreographed by Brian Feehan
Musical Direction by Scott Ethier
Non-Union production (Closed)
St. Bart’s Players (www.members.aol.com/bartsweb/)
Reviewed by Seth Bisen-Hersh
A Little Night Music is an extraordinary musical, which won six 1973 Tony Awards, including best book, score and musical. St. Bart’s Players presented a solid production of this classic, with mostly positive results.
Music is about various perspectives of romance. The show is framed by the elder Madame Armfeldt and her granddaughter Frederika’s discussions of love. There is an entanglement of affairs – Fredrik Egerman has been married to an 18 year old virgin, Anne, and had an affair years ago with Desiree Armfedlt. After seeing her perform, he rekindles the affair; however, Desiree is entangled with the Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, who is cheating on his wife Charlotte, sister of one of Anne’s old schoolmates. Obviously it takes two acts to sort things out.
Sondheim’s score is incredible. Composed almost entirely in triple meter, there is not a single bad lyric. The score is filled with clever innuendos and internal rhymes, and includes his most popular song “Send in the Clowns,” the passionate “The Miller Son” as well as the intricate, breathtaking act one finale “A Weekend in the Country.” Wheeler’s book has the perfect balance between farce and sentimentality.
The acting in this production was a mixed bag. There were a few weak links revolving around some flat notes in the ensemble and a bit of over-acting by some of the leads. However, there were mostly good performances. The highlights were Lisa Marie Gargione as Anne and Michael Padgett as Carl-Magnus. Gargione was adorable and possessed a beautifully trained soprano. Padgett excelled at comic timing and had a rich baritone, too.
The directing and choreography by Brian Feehan was very good. He made the show flow, and maneuvered the scene changes efficiently. Furthermore, he made very smart use of the space, and got most of the actors to give very solid performances. Jay Scott’s lighting design provided good atmosphere. However, sometimes the follow spots created more trouble than they were worth. Sarah Rigney’s set design was very detailed and full. Scott Ethier led a string-centric orchestra very well. They sounded very together, and helped produce an ambience of night music.
The St. Bart’s Players’ production has a few rough patches, but overall is quite enjoyable. Anyone who has never seen a live production of A Little Night Music should be encouraged to go see this one.
Copyright 2006 Seth Bisen-Hersh
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