Rob Searle as Fredrik and Michaela Oney as Desiree in a scene from the CNY Playhouse production of “A Little Night Music” running through Sept. 23, at the ShoppingTown Mall. (Amelia Beamish Photo)
By Russ Tarby
Stephen Sondheim’s famously contrapuntal score to “A Little Night Music” opens here with an overture sung with vigor and verve by the quality quintet of Liam Fitzpatrick, Terri Kennedy, Leila Dean, Lauren Puente and Jonathan Fleischman, followed by a “Night Waltz” danced by the entire company of 14.
Directed by award-winning musical director Abel Searor, this “Night” shines like a full moon reflecting off a meandering river.
Based on the 1955 Ingmar Bergman film, “Smiles of a Summer Night” (which was itself suggested by Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”) the Sondheim musical, with book by Hugh Wheeler, opened on Broadway in 1973, and has become a staple of the musical genre despite its many challenges.
Virtually all of the show’s music is written in waltz time and the score includes uptempo tongue-twisting patter songs such as “Now,” contrapuntal duets and trios, a quartet and even a dramatic double quintet. At several points, Sondheim has multiple performers each sing a different song simultaneously.
While that technique might tend to confuse, in Searor’s able hands the CNY Playhouse cast sing it all confidently and make the counterpoint communicate clearly: these love-struck characters each have a point of view that must be heard!
On opening night, the five-piece pit band occasionally overpowered the singers, but the vocals manage to carry the show as old lovers and new finally find their way into each other’s arms.
Searor did a great job of casting the production with gifted vocalists such as Ceara Windhausen as the lusty maid, Petra, Erin Sills as the scheming Countess Charlotte, Rob Searle as the newlywed Fredrik, Nic Maclane as Fredrik’s seminarian son, Henrik, Steve Gamba as the haughty, green-eyed Count Carl-Magnus, and Corey Hopkins as the smiling servant, Frid.
A CNY Playhouse newcomer, Taylor Peck, impressed with a tremulous soprano as Fredrick’s young wife, Anne, and local theater veteran Kathy Egloff gave one of her best performances ever as the headstrong dowager, Madame Arnfeldt, and 15-year-old Nancy O’Connor appeared as Madame’s piano-playing grand-daughter.
Best of all, however, is actress Michaela Oney as Fredrick’s old flame, the prima donna Desiree. Oney delivers a warm and comically human Desiree, who fully self-actualizes with a nakedly honest, tears-down-the-cheek rendition of “Send in the Clowns.”
That song, Sondheim’s all-time biggest hit, remains an anthem to regret for unwise past decisions and recognition that there’s no need to send in the clowns – they’re already here.
Choreographer Shannon Tompkins and costumer Christina Huffaker worked hard and successfully to keep the story moving smoothly which capturing the elegant ambiance of 1900 Sweden. Ditto scenic designer Christopher Lupia who created an eye-pleasing set that functions sequentially as Fredrik’s home, a theater and its dressing room, and Madame’s country estate. Lupia cleverly stored a bed beneath the estate’s portico.
As Searor stated in his program note, “All this comes together to make a bawdy, base operetta that would make Gilbert & Sullivan blush.”
“A Little Night Music,” produced by Keith Arlington, runs at 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14, 15 and 16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, and at 8 p.m. Sept. 21, 22 and 23, at CNY Playhouse, located near the Macy’s entrance at on the second level of ShoppingTown Mall, in DeWitt. Tickets cost $25 on Thursday and $28 on Friday and Saturday; cnyplayhouse.org; 315-885-8960.
Nov 18, 2017
Nov 18, 2017
Nov 18, 2017