BWW Interviews: A Weekend in the Country with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Stephen Sondheim's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC - which contestably features his most well-known hit, "Send in the Clowns" - opens in Pittsburgh this Sunday as part of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh's second-annual SummerFest. SummerFest is a three-week artistic celebration that "brings together a pack of independently-spirited, joyfully unconventional people to celebrate community as well as cultural values" through the presentation of six distinct operas for theatergoers of all ages and interests.
NIGHT MUSIC premiered on Broadway in 1973 and featured Glynis Johns as Desiree Armfeldt and Len Cariou as Fredrik Egerman. Directed by Harold Prince, the show won the Tony Award for Best Musical and has enjoyed numerous revivals on Broadway, the West End, and regionally throughout the years, in addition to a 1977 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Scott Wise, director of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh's upcoming production of NIGHT MUSIC, describes the piece as "material conceived as a musical and adopted by opera" - which, he notes, is typical of the work he has done with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh in previous years, like last summer's pitch-perfect presentation of Leonard Bernstein's operetta CANDIDE.
When the curtain opens on Opera Theater's production of NIGHT MUSIC this Sunday, Wise hopes that Pittsburgh audiences will take away not only the magical quality inherent in Sondheim's writing, but also "the universal nature of feelings of love, loss, betrayal and discovery."
BroadwayWorld Pittsburgh recently spoke with leading man Daniel Teadt, who plays lawyer Fredrik Egerman in the production. Check out the exclusive Q&A below!
BWW: How have you gone about preparing for the role of Fredrik Egerman?
Daniel Teadt: Most roles I prepare involve months of musical preparation, deconstruction, sketches, ideas and development both of the character's movements and mannerisms as well as appropriate vocal colors befitting his class, style and motivations. However, with Fredrik I also dove into Ingmar Bergman's Smiles On A Summer Night to search for the refinement of the Swedish upper class that imbues him with a certain coolness, despite his hot-blooded intentions. Gunnar Bjornstrand's performance was a revelation for me. But most importantly...I grew a moustache.
BWW: What can Pittsburgh audiences expect from this production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC?
DT: We are so fortunate to have Scott Wise at the helm of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC here in Pittsburgh. Scott is a brilliant professor at Point Park University's Conservatory for The Performing Arts and he brings decades of experience as a highly respected director and choreographer to this production. Every day we are greeted with inventive new ideas that challenge us as performers. Scott also has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the history and performance practice of musical theater and has inspired us to do as well as the masters he often references in rehearsal. Because he and so many of the talented performers, instrumentalists and conductor (Walter Morales) are based here in Pittsburgh, the audience has only to travel a short distance to see the top performing artists bringing their best work to the stage.
BWW: How do you approach a show such as this one that has had countless previous incarnations? Have you gleaned inspiration from past productions and performances of the show, or do you prefer to start with a clean slate?
DT: Although I start without a template for every character I create I also must respect those that came before me. Without the near flawless performances of Len Cariou, Glynis Johns and Hermione Gingold, amongst others, we wouldn't have the direct connection to the minds of Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince. Through them we get first hand accounts of the musical and stage directions, but then it is our job to continue to breathe life into these characters and bring our own unique experiences to them, deepening their humanness.
BWW: Do you have a favorite moment in the show that audiences can look for when they come to see the production?
DT: That's a tricky one. I personally feel a great connection to the scenes between Fredrik and Desiree (Anna Singer), but Sondheim gives us such rich characters full of laughter as well as tears that I would be remiss if I didn't also say the duet with Carl-Magnus (Rob Frankenberry) was one of my favorite moments too!
BWW: Describe this production of A Little Night Music in one succinct word or phrase.
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC opens on Sunday, July 7 at 2:30 p.m. and has a performance each following weekend. Performances take place at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Opera Theater of Pittsburgh's website.
Anna Singer who portrays Desiree Armfeldt and Daniel Teadt who portrays Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music. Photo by Amy Crawford.