Presented by Gilbert & Sullivan Society
Reviewed 26trh April 2018
Premiered in 1973, A Little Night Music is still regarded by many as the jewel in Stephen Sondheim’s considerable crown.
Based loosely on Bergman’s classic Smiles of a Summer Night, this musical follows the complicated love lives of bourgeois Swedes at the turn of the 20th century.
Veteran Bronwyn James shines in the pivotal role of Desiree, and shares some great stage chemistry with another veteran, Robin Schmelzkopf, as her erstwhile lover, Fredrik. Both deliver their songs as the gifts that they are: Sondheim is truly an actor’s songwriter. Schmelzkopf does a great job of the witty Now, and James’s rendition of the show’s hit number, Send in the Clowns, was suitably moving and self-deprecating.
This is an ensemble piece, and under Pam O’Grady’s expert direction, this ensemble delivers: Norma Knight, brings gravitas to the role of Madame Armfeldt; Deborah Caddy is delicious as Countess Malcolm; Nicholas Bishop does an excellent line in dumb beef-cake as count Malcolm; in her first role since high school, Emilene Whitehead as Anne, shows that she is a performer on the rise; and Henny Walters is a delightful Fredrika. Special mention to William Richards as Henrik and Megan Doherty as Petra, the latter giving a stonking rendition of The Miller’s Son. The six performers who took smaller roles/chorus, sang like angels.
Under the baton of musical director Christine Hodgen, the chamber orchestra sits upstage from the actors, adding, rather than detracting from, the action further down-stage. The playing was tight, lyrical and passionate.
The whole production is a delight to look at, too, with a beautiful but simple set by Tim de Jong, and subtly exquisite lighting by Jason Groves.
A Little Night Music contains some of Sondheim’s most beautiful and memorable songs, demonstrating his hallmark musical complexity, without some of the production complexities of his later works. And the G & S Society of SA has given us a high-quality night in the theatre. So high quality, that this reviewer is hoping to go back for second-helpings!
Grab a ticket now before it sells out, which it well deserves to.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Venue: Arts Theatre
Season: 26th April-5th May
Duration: 3 hours