One of the songs that I grew up with was “Send in the Clowns,” Sondheim’s only Top 40 hit by Judy Collins. Like any good teenager, I was completely oblivious to what the lyrics meant. Now I know. One of life’s little mysteries is solved. The Metro Stage Company’s production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is a revelation on many levels.
Sondheim’s A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (with book by Hugh Wheeler) explores the romantic lives of Scandinavians under the influence of the midnight sun. In particular, the story focuses on Desiree Armfeldt (Tracy Nygard), her mother, Madame Armfeldt (Mary O’Donnell), and Desiree’s young daughter, Fredrika (Isabelle Miller). Desiree, a once-famous actress, is now toiling away in the dregs of the theatrical world. Her mother, disgusted by her daughter’s self-absorbed ways, has custody of her only child. By chance, the actress encounters her former lover, Fedrik Egerman (James Fitzpatrick) with his new virginal wife, Anne Egerman (Joelle Kross). In no time, the past lovers reunite, but not without some entertaining entanglements. Desiree’s current lover, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Robert Case) takes issue with this new wrinkle and his poor wife (Shana Dirik) suffers his jealousy. Even the maid (Lenni Kmiec) and manservant (Gary Ryan) get some action! Sir Walter Scott wasn’t Scandinavian, but he should have been. He put it best…“Oh! What a tangled web we weave; when first we practice to deceive.”
Under the direction of Maryann Zschau, Metro Stage puts Sondheim’s wit to work and I doesn’t miss a joke. I have seen other productions of this and most of Sondheim’s brilliant lines go unnoticed. Here, clear diction and compelling performances made me laugh, care, and connect. Someone next to me even shed a few tears!
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is currently running until October 23rd.