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Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" at the Walter Kerr Theatre
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Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" at the Walter Kerr Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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A Little Night Music
(A Little Night MusicWebsite)
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler

Starring:
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angela Lansbury
Alexander Hanson

Directed by Trevor Nunn
Music Supervision by Caroline Humphris
Choreography by Lynne Page

At the
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

Featuring: Erin Davie, Leigh Ann Larkin,
Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Ramona Mallory,
And Aaron Lazar
With an Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Scenic and Costume Design: David Farley
Lighting Design: Hartley T A Kemp
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier, Gareth Owen
Wigs and Hair Design by Paul Huntley
Makeup Design by Angelina Avallone
Production Stage Manager: Ira Mont
Assoc. Director: Seth Sklar-Heyn
Assoc. Choreographer: Scott Taylor
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting
Music Direction: Tom Murray
Orchestrations: Jason Carr
Music Coordination: John Miller
General Management: Frankel Green Theatrical Management
Technical Supervision: Aurora Productions
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 16, 2009


Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, inspired by Ingmar Bergman's film, "Smiles of a Summer Night", is also evocative of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, even in its balletic form. Characters are loved by one and in love with another, in frolicking romps in parlors and gardens. Add a rapturous young movie star, a seasoned stage – screen icon, a quasi-incestuous triangle, lots of lovers wandering from marriages, hysterical scorned wives, and a swashbuckling Count to Stephen Sondheim’s magical songs, and a Broadway hit is born. Catherine Zeta-Jones makes her Broadway debut here (where else have we heard that lately), and she could not be better suited to her role as Desirée Armfeldt, an actress in love with her craft, but also in love with the married Fredrik Egerman (Alexander Hanson). Egerman is married to a teenage virgin, his mid-age crisis ornament, who won’t give him what he paid for. The virgin wife, Anne Egerman (Ramona Mallory), is being aggressively pursued by Fredrik’s son, Henrik Egerman (Hunter Ryan Herdlicka), who also flirts with Petra, the Maid (Leigh Ann Larkin).

To embellish this romantic design, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Aaron Lazar) is obsessed with his ongoing affair with Desirée, while the Count’s wife, Countess Charlotte Malcolm (Erin Davie), is an overwrought hypochondriac. The center of this madcap universe is Madame Armfeldt (Angela Lansbury), with a glowing performance as Desirée’s Grandmother, sitting sublimely in the sunset of her legendary life. But, the expected box office success of this mesmerizing production is not just in the familiarity of two names on the marquee. Ms. Zeta-Jones is an astoundingly impassioned singer and actress, with a refined, glamorous presence and a cognac-rich voice. In Act II she captivates the eye and adds a warm glow, as she eloquently sings “Send In the Clowns”, alone and again with Fredrik. Her acting is textured, authentic, sophisticated. Ms. Lansbury exudes joy and grace, and her “Liaisons” is delivered with humor, maturity, and soul. Alexander Hanson, as Fredrik, visibly shifts from arrogant to amorous, when his partners shift from distant wife to attentive lover.

Aaron Lazar presents an over-the-top performance as the Count, jealous, vengeful, demanding, but vulnerable. This is, after all, a musical comedy, although its palette is thick with pathos. Erin Davie, as the Countess, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, as Henrik, and Ramona Mallory, as Anne, are all too agitated and panicked. I would have preferred a more even mix to the merry madness unfolding, as farcical, unrequited love speaks for itself. Hugh Wheeler’s book and Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics combine for most enjoyable scenarios and songs, but Trevor Nunn’s tight direction made magic of the madness for a great night at the theatre. Kudos to David Farley’s uncluttered sets (with cloudy surreal backgrounds) and period, turn of the 20th Century Swedish, full-length dresses and stylish suits. Hartley T A Kemp’s lighting adds sparkling effects to seamlessly rotating scenes. Kudos to the Cast, and kudos to Stephen Sondheim.








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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net