Sondheim's A Little Night Music has always been a favorite of mine. With a velvety score and an undercurrent of frisky sensuality, it's an ode to a more romantic, whimsical time. The tantalizing production now playing at Writers' Theatre is the fresh jolt your disposition craves...a glass of chilled lemonade for the soul. As pleasing to the eyes as it is to the ears, this small yet sumptuous Night Music is positively bewitching.
In turn-of-the-century Sweden, Fredrik (Jonathan Weir) is growing impatient with his virginal new wife, Anne (Kristen French). His old flame, Desirée Armfeldt (Shannon Cochran), a glamorous actress, is growing bored with her life on the road, as well as annoyed with her pompous new lover, Carl-Magnus (Brandon Dahlquist). Carl-Magnus's wife Charlotte (Tiffany Scott) is growing frustrated with her husband's indiscretions. Meanwhile, when he isn't being teased by the scintillating maid, Petra (Brianna Borger), Fredrik's son Henrik (Royen Kent) is trying to control his lust for his father's new bride. Hilarity ensues at Desirée's mother's country estate when the couples find themselves suddenly thrown together, each with a different plot up their sleeve.
Shannon Cochran is infectiously charming as aging temptress Desirée Armfeldt. While her "Send in the Clowns" is thoroughly touching, it's her comedic chops that give life to the production. Cochran's beer-guzzling, lip-smacking behavior during Weir's "You Must Meet My Wife" is undoubtedly the evening's most enjoyable moment. Her playful brand of magnetism leaves no room for doubt regarding her powers as paramount enchantress.
A perfect counterpart, Deanna Dunagan's poised Madame Armfeldt brings a coolheaded regality to the farce surrounding her. A Tony Award-winner for August: Osage County, Dunagan has the audience rapt with every utterance. Worldly and wise-cracking, with ever the faintest smile on her lips, her smallest exhalation of breathe is enough to bring a tear to your eye.
With direction by William Brown, A Little Night Music will lift your spirits and revive your attitude just in time for summer. With the longer days ahead, soon you'll be throwing country-picnics or high teas of your own, just to make use of your newfound appreciation for the pastoral things in life.
Filed under: Writers' Theatre