Chicago, Friday, May 18, 2012. "A Little Night Music," the Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) Hugh Wheeler (book) musical that opened on Broadway nearly 40 years ago is delighting audiences at Glencoe's Writers' Theatre in a sparkling new revival, directed by William Brown.
Set in turn of the century Sweden, "A Little Night Music" has become a popular favorite undergoing many revivals and drawing iconic stars in its wake including Elaine Stritch, Angela Lansbury and Judy Dench as Madam Armfeldt and the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bernadette Peters and Glynis Johns as Desirée Armfeldt.
The story features Desirée Armfeldt, as the fading glamorous actress whose past includes a tangled web of romances. Full of quick wit and evoking the harmonious rhythm of waltz time, the story unfolds when both of her lovers—and their wives—show up for "A Weekend in the Country", awakening the possibilities of an old romance and flaming new passions.
It is a treat to watch the story told in the intimate and inviting 105-seat space inside the Writers' Theatre. The entire production is flawless. The cast had some big shoes to fill--and fill them they did.
Shannon Cochran's Desirée Arnfeldt captures both the humor and the passion important to her roll as she hopes to reunite with her former lover Fredrik Egerman, masterfully portrayed by Jonathan Weir. Fredrik is married to the 18-year-old virginal Anne Egerman portrayed by Kristen French with just the right amount of coyness and naivety. Fredrik's son Henrik (Royen Kent), who is just a year older than his stepmother Anne, keeps his desires locked inside his heart.
Tony Award winner Deanna Dunagan is stoic and delightful as the elderly Madame Arnfeldt as she reflects on her own checked past beautifully remembering her "Liaisons" while keeping close watch on her granddaughter, Fredericka Arnfeldt played perfectly by Shannon Corey. Petra (Brianna Borger), is earthy and dynamic especially when she sings ("The Miller's Son") and Brandon Dahlquist and Tiffany Scott as Count and Countess Malcolm, respectively were spot-on as were John Finley (Frid) and Cory Goodrich (Malla), Desirées' maid.
Then there's the all important music, which was performed with perfection under the direction of Valerie Maze. Kevin Depinet (scenic), Jesse Klug (lighting), Rachel Anne Healy (costumes), Andrew Hansen (sound) and Nick Heggestad (properties) added just the right finishing touches to this quality production.
"Why revive "A Little Night Music"? Reviving Night Music presents a risk of the show becoming trite. Iconic pieces of theater, such as ALNM, must strive for a perfect balance. Writers' Theatre revival, under the direction of Brown, masters that balance with a remarkable group of actors, all of whom, through the force of their personalities offer a fresh perspective and understanding to this seminal musical. In this case, Writers' made the right choice by reviving "A Little Night Music" in celebration of their 20th Anniversary season.
Tickets and Performance Schedule.
Curtain times are Tuesday and Wednesdays at 7:30p.m. (no performance on July 4); Wednesday matinees at 2p.m. (May 16 and June 27 only); Thursdays and Fridays at 8p.m.; Saturdays at 4p.m. and 8p.m. and Sundays at 2p.m. and 6p.m.(no 6p.m. on May 20 and July 1). Tickets are $35-$70. They are available at the Box Office at 376 Park Ave. Glencoe, 847 242 6000 or online. Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes. Extended through August 12, 2012.