I scored the last rush ticket yesterday around 11:45am for A Little Night Music. I’ve dragged my feet for far too long on seeing this show. I’ve always been somewhere on the fine line between “I do want to see this show!” and “Nah, I have no interest." I was dancing on the cusp of the ”I have no interest“ but I’d been told by many theatre folk that I should see it just because. I told myself that it’s Sondheim, it’s (supposedly) beautiful music, and Bernadette Peters. I had no idea what the plot was about but I’d hoped it would surprise me and be great.
First things first: The rush seats are great. I was in orchestra right in Row H. No obstruction at all! And they’re $27. Win! There were two understudies on, but Peters and Stritch were both there, so anyone in the audience could not have cared less.
The plot concerns a handful of couples and their infidelities to one another, past and present. Sondheim is also the only person on earth who could get the audience to applaud for what is basically incest. Anne has married Henrik, though they are decades apart in age, and in the second act, Henrik’s son, Fredrik admits his affections for Anne and they run off together. A step-mother runs off with her step-son. This is Jerry Spring material, but…. Sondheim wrote it, so it’s okay.
I loved Leigh Ann Larkin who played the lively and free-spirited servent, Petra. Her song at the end of the show, "The Miller’s Son,” received more applause than Peter’s “Send in the Clowsn” did, surprisingly. Peter’s portrayal of Desiree Armfeldt, the actress who once captured Henrik’s heart, was pretty one dimensional and lacked any depth until she began to cry and sang “Send in the Clowns." I’m pretty sure this was my first time seeing Ms. Peter’s live onstage and I’m sorry to say that she didn’t do anything that I haven’t seen before – the same gestures and intonation are used for everything she does. I also wasn’t impressed with Elaine Stritch. She had a few moments that were great, but overall, I was falling asleep during her scenes and wishing she had a better voice during her songs (it should also be said that her role, Madame Armfeldt, is not a particularly demanding role, vocally).
I enjoyed Ramona Mallory as Anne Egerman, and Stephen R. Buntrock as Fredrik the most, in addition to Larkin. Their relationship onstage, although slightly incestuous, was entertaining to watch onstage.
I’m glad I saw it, and the music was gorgeous, but the show itself leaves much to be desired and is, for the most part, incredibly boring.