Lamplighters Music Theatre stages ‘A Little Night Music’
The good news: A Little Night Music is lavish and well worth seeing. Here are a few of the reasons that it’s a not-to-be-missed experience.
This musical (one of Sondheim’s earliest) is an ambitious undertaking for any company. The witty lyrics are elaborate and exacting, and the melodies demanding, both in range and complexity. Lamplighters Music Theatre wisely provided supertitles, so that audiences could fully appreciate Sondheim’s wry and complex lyrics.
Lamplighter’s highly professional performers met these daunting challenges without a misstep. All of the leads were technically adept and on point. Standouts in the stellar cast were Robby Stafford as Fredrik and Barbara Heroux as Madame Armfeldt, who had many of the best lines in the show. Stafford brought gravitas, tenderness and wily humor to his role, and Heroux lent the ancient dowager a wry and dry humor.
To I Shall Marry the Miller’s Son, which often stops the show, Lindsay Stark’s Petra brought an air of sheer delight, and savored every brilliant word of the song.
Two of the musical’s best songs reveal Sondheim’s more serious side. Every Day a Little Death, a devastating tale of marital betrayal, was sung gravely and flawlessly by Josselyn Ryder as Anne, and Cary Ann Rosko as Charlotte.
Early in the production, Henrik (Samuel Faustine) Fredrik, Anne, performed Now/Later/Soon, a rigorous, labyrinthine trio. The tune addresses frustrations (sexual and delayed gratification), while giving us insight into these three characters’ desires.
And now, the not-so-good news: Since much of A Little Night Music’s action and dialogue is so farcical, it is essential that the beats between lines are nuanced and still. If the actors mug even a little, the fragile balance of humorous and serious moments is thrown completely off balance.
The Lamplighters are known for performing light opera, and they specialize in Gilbert and Sullivan. A Little Night Music is neither. It is, among other things, a serious examination of human nature, sometimes at its worst and most clueless. Over gesturing and sight gags have no place here. The required gravitas required at critical moments was often, sadly, absent.
If you intend to bring children or seniors, be cautioned that this show is three hours long, with one intermission at the hour-and-a-half mark.
A Little Night Music plays for two weekends, first at Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, on February 9 at 2pm and 8pm, and February 10 at 2pm. For tickets, call (925) 943-7469 or visit lesherartscenter.org.
The following weekend, the company performs at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, on February 16 at 2pm and 8pm, and February 17 at 2pm. Tickets are available at mvcpa.com, or at (650) 903-6000. Tickets range from $21 to $56.