Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at DCPA

The biggest name is town brings grandeur to a small show.

By: Sep. 21, 2023
Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at DCPA

The biggest theatre name in town continues to produce granduer productions - even those that have "small" in the title. Directed by Chris Coleman, DCPA's A Little Night Music fills the space like only they can: with top notch performers and clever, intricate staging. Coleman's direction accompanied by Kevin Copenhaver's costuming and Robert Mark Morgan's scenic design all work cohesively and give the actors quite the stage to stand on.

Sam Primack as Henrik emerges as the dark horse of the show with a powerhouse voice. Primack offers one of my favorite portrayals as the boy whose internal conflicts effect him for than the other characters' problems do to them. As Petra, Cate Hayman brings a constant presence to the show. Where Primack does a great job at giving Henrik a sense of ignorance, Hayman brings a sense of worldy understanding to Petra and her role in that world. Zachary James as Count Carl-Magnus toes the line perfectly playing a hard, stoic man with rather comedic outbursts. His vocal skill is the cherry on top to his characterization. Alexis Gordon as his wife, Countess Charlotte Malcolm, takes a firm grasp of what is my favorite character in the show. She is essentially the grown version of what I imagine Anne to be, which makes sense given their ties throughout the show. Her understanding of the world comes with a chip on her shoulder which Gordon makes known through her expert portrayal. Chip and all, Gordon remains unbroken from start to finish.

There is something in Sydney Chow's protrayal of Anne that doesn't line up with the character's given circumstances. Much like I have seen before, Chow brings Anne to life with a naivety and ignorance that, for me, is not Anne's MO. Yes, she is a young, 18-year-old bride and yes, she finds herself playing a "game" she has less experience in compared to the other players, but Anne is eager to master the game. She has a line in the show about how SHE is the one who decided to marry Fredrik because he seemed to sad. This alone speaks to a level of bold confidence Anne carries that Chow doesn't bring to the character. I had hoped for Anne Boleyn but ended up with Anne of Green Gables.

In other mountings of A Little Night Music, I typically walk away with litte to no sympathy for Fredrik, typically due to the idea that this older man decided to take such a young bride. However, Edward Staudenmayer's portrayal made me, dare I say, root for him? Equipped with a great voice, Staudenmayer exhibits a sense of charm that makes Desiree's love for him understandable. Speaking of Desiree, what is there that can be said that would truly capture all that IS Soara-Joye Ross? Truly, Ross gives a magnificent performance with a captivating peformance of "Send in the Clowns." Truly, I struggle to summarize beyond one word: perfection.

My issues with the show don't so much stem from the production as they do the source material. The big question is, "Why does the grandma die at the end?" It just feels a bit dramatic, even for the theatre. If there was some sort of lead-up to the moment, whether it be in the written words or subtlies in the direction, it would make more sense. The additional characters in the show that serve as a "Greek chorus" also do not have enough purpose to be there. Only one contributes to any sort of plotline and that is only with Petra toward the end of the second act. I suppose I'll take my issues up with Sondheim.

A Little Night Music runs at DCPA through October 8, 2023 at DCPA.


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