Monthly Archive for: ‘May, 2015’

Sondheim’s A Little Night Music a terrific show at A.C.T.

(L-R): Mrs. Anderssen (Annemaria Rajala), Mr. Erlanson (Andres Ramirez), Mrs. Nordstrom (Christine Capsuto), Mr. Lindquist (Brandon Dahlquist), and Mrs. Segstrom (Caitlan Taylor) in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater May 20-June 14. Photo by Kevin Berne.

A Little Night Music: Musical by Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler. Directed by Mark Lamos. American Conservatory Theater (ACT), 415 Geary St., San Francisco, CA. (415) 749-2228 or www.act-sf.org. May 20–June 14, 2015. (Extended to June 21, 2015)

Sondheim’s A Little Night Music a terrific show at A.C.T. Rating: ★★★★★

We in the Bay Area are fortunate to have three major theatrical companies within the immediate Bay Area. Each of those groups has closed their 2014-2015 seasons with five star productions as different from the other as night and day. Berkeley Rep was first up a week ago with an English imported farce One Man, Two Guvnors, (based on Carlo Goldini’s A Servant of Two Masters). One night ago Center Rep mounted the rewrite of the 1936 Musical Anything Goes and last night A.C.T. produced Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (Based on the Ingmar Bergman movie Smiles of a Summer Night). All three received well deserved standing ovations.

Actually, Sondheim’s Night Music is a musical comedy but it is much more than that. It is a modern musical classic with distinctive music elevating the waltz to new heights. The creative team has interwoven divergent themes of young, middle aged (foolish) and old love into a memorable whole with ingenious direction and staging with uplifting acting worthy of Sondheim and Wheeler’s music and words.

The setting is Sweden and the time is the turn of the century. The pivotal character is Desiree Armfeldt (a superb Karen Ziemba) is a glamorous actress who is constantly on tour. Her aging mother, living in the country, Madame Armfeldt (Dana Ivey) has taken over the care of Fredrika ( Brigid O’Brien) Desiree’s 14 year old daughter.

Successful Lawyer Fredrik Egerman (Patrick Cassidy), a former lover of Desiree, has remarried virginal 18 year old Anne (Laurie Veldheer) but they have not consummated the marriage even after being married eleven years. Henrik (Justin Scott Brown), Fredrik’s living at home young son, a year older than Anne, is a confused divinity student secretly in love with Anne. Anne has a saucy maid Petra (Marissa McGowen).

Fredrik has an unexpected liaison with Desiree rekindling old love but she has taken a new lover the gauche Count Carl-Magnus (Paolo Montalban) who is married to unhappy Charlotte (Emily Skinner).  With all the major characters in place it is time to spend “A Weekend in the Country.” What a weekends it is to be but you have to wait until Act 2 where all is somewhat resolved.

Integral to the staging are five (two males and three females) ancillary characters that flawlessly move about the stage acting as a Greek chorus while seamlessly moving the minimal props. Their opening number is a gem as they sexily cavort on the stage floor and join in with the cast for the opening “Night Waltz.”

Ricardo Hernadez’s inventive attractive minimal set allows director Mark Lamos to move his characters in an effortless waltz throughout the evening. Although it is Sondheim’s music that captures the evening Lamos adds many elegant touches to the evening including costuming (Candice Donnelly) for the chorus that create harlequins and memories of Edward Degas’s paintings.

First and foremost are the music and lyrics including the haunting “Send in the Clowns” that is memorably sung by Karen Ziemba. In the first act alone we are treated to “The Glamorous Life”, “Remember?”, “You Must Meet My Wife”, “Liaisons”, “In Praise of Women”, “Every Day a Little Death” and “Weekend in the Country.”

The accolades continue throughout the evening with a true show stopper of “The Miller’s Son” sung to perfection by Marissa McGowan.  Ziemba is the best Desiree this reviewer has seen. Dana Ivey gives an excellent performance as  Madame Armfeldt.  Emily Skinner and Laurie Veldheer have a powerful turn on the stage with “Every Day a Little Death.”

The show runs 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission. Reccommendation: Amust see show.

CAST:  Patrick Cassidy as Fredrick  Egerman ; Emily Skinner as Charlotte Malcolm; Karen Ziemba as Desiree Armfeldt; Dana Ivey as Madame Armfeldt; Paolo Montalban as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm; Justin Scott Brown as Henrick Egerman; Marissa McGowan as Petra; Laurie Veldheer as Anne Edgerman; Christine Capsuto as Mrs. Nordstrom; Brandon Dahlquist as Mr. Lindquist; Michael McIntire as Frid; Brigid O’Brien as Fredrika Armfeldt; Annemaria Rajala as Mrs. Anderssen; Andres Ramirez as Mr. Erlanson; Caitlan Taylor as Mrs. Segstrom.

CREATIVE TEAM: Directed by Riccardo Hernandez (set design); Robert Wiertzel (lighting design); Candice Donnelly (costume design); Kevin Kennedy (sound design); Val Caniparoli (choreography); Wayne Barker (music direction).

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com

(L-R): Mrs. Anderssen (Annemaria Rajala), Mr. Erlanson (Andres Ramirez), Mrs. Nordstrom (Christine Capsuto), Mr. Lindquist (Brandon Dahlquist), and Mrs. Segstrom (Caitlan Taylor) in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater May 20-June 14. Photo by Kevin Berne.

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