BWW Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (VICTORIAN OPERA) at The Playhouse, Melbourne Arts Centre
Friday 28th June 2019
This musical-comedy of manners, with the dialogue and wit reminiscent of Oscar Wilde remains one of theatres most cherished and sophisticated musicals, despite having only one well known showstopper, Send in the Clowns.
At the request of her daughter, Desiree, who hopes to rekindle her love with an old flame, Madame Armfeldt, a former courtesan, played beautifully by Nancye Hayes, invites some guests to stay for the weekend at her country house, but when some uninvited guests arrive things go awry....
Direct Stuart Maunder has assembled some of Australia's top talent, who are comfortable, confident and deliver truthful performances in this technically challenging piece of theatre.
Ali McGregor who started her career as a principal soprano with Opera Australia, plays aging actress Desiree Armfeldt and delivers a heartfelt performance. Much-loved loved leading man Simon Gleeson charms as Fredrik Egerman, who comes back into Desiree's life after many years.
As Fredrik's naïve 18-year old still-virgin wife after 11 months of marriage, Elisa Colla, who possesses the most beautiful soprano voice, is beguiling, funny and flighty.
The always excellent Alinta Chidzey is wonderfully mischievous as Anne's maid, Petra and Mat Verevis brings a sweet melancholy to the role of Henrik, Fredrik's son, who is studying for the priesthood, fighting temptation from Petra and lusting after his 18-year-old stepmother!
Samuel Dundas is the hypocritical Count Carl Magnus Malcolm, who values fidelity from boh his wife and mistress and as his wife, Countess Charlotte, Verity Hunt-Ballard delivers scene stealing dry wit and droll delivery.
The beautiful Edwardian set and costumes by Roger Kirk and lighting by Trudy Dalgleish makes us feel at times that we are part of a watercolour painting or inside the rich, warm, Art-Nouveau stained-glass lampshades of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra under the guidance of musical director Phoebe Briggs sounded grand, but there was some sound issues with the lead vocals whose voices seemed unusually far away despite the intimate setting of The Playhouse.
With its universal themes of love, nostalgia and regret, this production demonstrates why A Little Night Music still remains a theatre-goers favourite and why Stephen Sondheim is widely regarded as one of musical theatre's greatest composers.
The show runs at the Playhouse in The Arts Centre, Melbourne until Saturday 6th July
Book tickets here