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BWW Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at 42nd Street Moon

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A Little Night Music

BWW Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at 42nd Street Moon

A Little Night Music

Book by Hugh Wheeler

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Directed by Brandon Jackson

42nd Street Moon

42nd Street Moon takes on a daunting challenge for its 2021/2022 Season opener with Stephen Sondheim's romantic comedy A Little Night Music, a challenge they take on with considerable effort. The score is more operetta than most musical theatre and requires actors possessing wide ranges, a considerable task for any theatre company. This strain and some varying levels of vocal projection didn't dampen the enthusiasm, charm, and humor of Hugh Wheeler's farce.

Based on Ingmar Bergmans' film "Smiles of a Summer Night," the story interweaves couples, a three-way, two virgins and a family matriarch as they work through differing aspects of love. Presented through Sondheim's complicated song structures including counterpoint and polyphony, techniques he would go on to use throughout his career, the actors sing in trios ("Perpetual Anticipation") or dialogues ("Now/Later/Soon", "A Weekend in the Country"). At time actors sing three songs at once which can seem maddening as one tries to focus on one thread at a time.

BWW Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at 42nd Street Moon
Martin Bell as Fredrik and Alison Ewing as Desiree

If one is not a Sondheim fan and find the score confusing, they an fixate on the comic plotlines, of which there are plenty. Frederick Egerman (Martin Bell) a widowed middle-aged lawyer now married to an 18-year-old trophy wife Anne (Samantha Cardenas), runs into old flame Desiree (Alison Ewing) and perhaps a rekindling of their affair. Desiree is having an affair with Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Will Giammona), who wife Charlotte (Katrina Lauren McGraw) despises his infidelities but remains loyal.

BWW Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at 42nd Street Moon
Katrina Lauren McGraw as Charlotte and Samantha Rose Cárdenas as Anne

There's young Henrik Egerman, a theological student who's sexually repressed (played by a gender-bending Shai Wolf), the brash maid Petra (Trixie Aballa), Fredericka (Chloe Fong), Desiree's 13-year-old child of dubious origin, and the family matriarch Madame Armfeldt (Cindy Goldfield). Oh, and Greek Chorus to help with exposition (Jennifer Mitchell* as "Mrs. Nordstrom," Stephanie Rhoads* as "Mrs. Anderssen," Jacqueline DeMuro as "Mrs. Segstrom," Mark Robinson as "Mr. Erlanson" and Joshua Gonzales as "Mr. Lindquist").

BWW Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at 42nd Street Moon
Alison Ewing as Desiree, Chloe Fong as Fredrika, Cindy Goldfield as Mdm. Armfeldt, and Jack O′Reilly as Frid

Set in 1900's Sweden, Ashley Garlick pulls out all the stops with her elegant high society costumes. Daniel Thomas manages the music direction and Brandon Jackson moves the many characters and crisscrossing subplots with skill. Some nice waltz-oriented choreography is by Allison Paraiso-Silicani. Allison Ewing has the lucky opportunity to deliver the score's most popular anthem of regret "Send in the Clowns," a number written for a mature performer who's seen it all and is emotionally raw and vulnerable. There's something for all here; a sumptuous score, great diversity in casting, thoughtful comic Shakespearean couplings, sophisticated adult humor and some fine performances.

A Little Night Music runs through November 21st, 2021. Tickets available available now at 42ndstmoon.org/a-little-night-music.

Photo Credit: Ben Krantz Studio


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