As musicals go, "Night Music" is cheerfully un-American. No one belts out a song, dances up a wall or makes love in a Bronx accent. Suggested by Ingmar Bergman’s early film, "Smiles of a Summer Night," the tale, as retold by Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim, is a charming blend of old-world cynicism and sophisticated sentimentality.
Except for the lovely "Send in the Clowns," there’s scarcely a memorable song in the show, but don’t take this at face value. Sondheim’s score is filled with buoyant waltzes and witty rhythms, and his wry, wistful lyrics are among his finest. If you listen to the words — especially clear in this production — you’re in for a treat.
Set in 1900 Sweden, the bittersweet story is about Fredrik Egerman, a middle-age lawyer who’s grown increasingly restless in an unconsummated second marriage to a girl his son’s age. Fredrik finds himself falling in love again with actress Desiree Armfeldt, an old flame presently carrying on with a bumptious dragoon, who also happens to be married.
Meanwhile, Fredrik’s straightlaced son and his young wife are enjoying mutual palpitations of their own. The amusing complications are many and allow Sondheim to comment freely on the curious twists and turns of love for young and not-so-young alike.
While the ensemble’s acting is its strongest point, the voices are disciplined and agreeable. Thom Christopher and Barbara Beckley are an excellent match for each other as the middle-age lovers, and as their younger counterparts, Robin Lynn Funk and John Thomas Clark are blind innocence personified. Paul Eggington and Rozsa Horvath are also appealing as the jealous dragoon and his equally jealous wife. Linda Stone is properly lusty as the amorous maid.
Director Todd Nielsen and
his staff deserve a full share of credit for the seamless virtuosity of
the production. Terrence Shank’s dappled lighting and egg-shaped moon create
a perfect ambiance for a stage full of summer lovers. Gene Mazzanti’s evocative
set and Rozsa Horvath’s exquisite costumes heighten the lush romantic mood.
The solo piano of Jeffrey Rockwell adds a final grace note to the evening.
A Little Night Music at the Colony Theatre