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A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC Review Roundup

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A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC "re-opened" on Sunday night August 1st as it officially celebrated Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch joining the cast. So what did the critics have to say?

Charles Isherwood, NY Times: "But for theater lovers there can be no greater current pleasure than to witness Bernadette Peters perform the show's signature number, "Send In the Clowns," with an emotional transparency and musical delicacy that turns this celebrated song into an occasion of transporting artistry. I'm not sure I've ever experienced with such palpable force - or such prominent goose bumps - the sense of being present at an indelible moment in the history of musical theater"

Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press: "She and Stritch, a fellow Tony winner, are making a welcome return. When Stritch sings of failing standards in "Liaisons," she's not talking about acting (well, not in the traditional sense) but one can't help extrapolating a bit. "Where is style?" she asks. "Where is skill?" 'Where's passion in the art, where's craft?" Here's one place you can look: Right at her, onstage at the Walter Kerr Theatre."

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: "Bottom Line: New leads Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch bring a whole new level to a show that demands a repeat visit."

Erik HaagensenBackstage: "The company has adjusted, and the show is still pretty wonderful. The unquestionable highlight of the evening is Peters. This is without doubt one of her finest stage performances. Probably wisely, Stritch doesn't even make a feint toward belonging to the show's period, nor does she reach for the kind of elegance and hauteur that Mme. Armfeldt affects. What Stritch does offer is honest, psychologically acute acting married with the kind of razor-sharp timing that can only be attained through a lifetime of experience."

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: "Broadway's Home Team Strikes Out. Stritch, Peters Falter in Recast 'Music'. Will they be able to keep the show open for another six months? I doubt it-and not just because they lack the name recognition necessary to galvanize the tourist trade. Much as I esteem both women, neither one of them is well cast."

Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: "They are, in a word, bewitching. And they give performances quite unlike their predecessors. Just for the record (go look it up), I enjoyed more than some colleagues director Trevor Nunn's leisurely, intimately scaled, darker-toned take on this sophisticated musical affair about former lovers Desiree and Fredrik, now middle-aged, who rekindle their romance in spite of other attachments."

Steve SuskinVariety: "What a difference a diva makes. Bernadette Peters steps into the six-month-old revival of "A Little Night Music" with a transfixing performance, playing it as if she realizes her character's onstage billing -- "the one and only Desiree Armfeldt" -- is cliched hyperbole. By figuratively rolling her eyes at the hype, Peters gives us a rich, warm and comedically human Desiree, which reaches full impact when she pierces the facade with a nakedly honest, tears-on-cheek 'Send in the Clowns.'"

John Simon, Bloomberg News: "It is lucky enough when a replacement cast can match the original one; it is more than serendipitous when the newcomers surpass their predecessors. That is the case with "A Little Night Music," which resumes after a recess, with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch taking over for Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury, respectively."

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: "With everybody firing on all cylinders, Nunn's spare, twilit staging finally makes sense, and even the smallness of the orchestra feels appropriate. This is about presenting Sondheim's sorry-grateful, regretful-happy take on love, sex and marriage without pretenses or adornments -- but with plenty of style and wit. How adult!"

Liz Smith: "But Bernadette Peters has never had a role that suited her quite so superbly as her brilliant, joyful, irrepressible, humane and generous "middle-aged" actress in this, Sondheim's very best work. I know he didn't write it with her in mind; but it has come to pass. Many have been entertaining in the role but none come up to Bernadette who is perfect."

Matt Windman, AM New York: "Trevor Nunn's scaled-down production looks visually exquisite, but the lighting is too dim, the pacing is too slow and the orchestra is too reduced. But with Peters and Stritch joining a strong supporting cast, Sondheim's romantic musical continues to ring out with divinity. Now send in the audience!"

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: "Suddenly, the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical is aglow with a brilliant and irresistible warmth. Don't credit the climate. Thank Bernadette Peters, who's assumed the role of Desiree Armfeldt, the famous but fading actress played to Tony-winning effect by Catherine Zeta-Jones."

Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: "A certain balance has been restored to A Little Night Music in its current incarnation. As the song goes: Isn't it rich! A-"


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