Landmark Musical's latest is well-acted and well-sung
by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, July 21, 2011
Fredrik Egerman has married a virgin. After 11 months of marriage, that descriptor hasn’t changed. Anne, the playful yet guarded 18-year-old bride, has the emotional depth of a coatrack, but it didn’t keep Fredrik’s son, Henrik, from falling madly in love with her. Perhaps in an attempt to ward off his feelings, young Henrik joined seminary school.
A Little Night Music begins with this disturbing little family portrait, which is interrupted when one of Fredrik’s old flings comes through town. Sexually frustrated, Fredrik seeks out the middle-aged starlet, Desirée Armfeldta, to quench his desires. But of course things only get more complicated. Desirée is the mistress of Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm. The count, as she says, has the arrogance of a peacock and a brain the size of a pea. He also has a penchant for duels and becomes suspicious of the old lovers.
The imbroglio comes to a head when the whole lot of them, with the count’s wife in tow, end up at the Armfeldt country home for a weekend. Desirée wants to steal Fredrik, Fredrik vows fidelity to Anne, Henrik tries to forget his lust for his stepmother, the count’s wife flirts with Fredrik in an attempt to inspire jealousy in her husband, and the count tries to get a little action while keeping an eye on his mistress and her old lover. It’s a love hexagon.
Landmark Musicals has done well with the set, erecting Victorian-themed, seemingly wallpapered panels that light up in multifarious colors to reflect different scenes and moods. The costumes and set pieces all echo a solid turn-of-the-century vibe.
A Little Night Music is a show that will likely appeal to more mature audiences. Maybe it’s the tone of the show, which is surprisingly wholesome given the subject matter. Maybe it’s the near-constant, often operatic singing. In either case this one’s probably not for a thirtysomething crowd. That said, Landmark Musicals has done a fine job with it. While not all the actors are fantastic, there aren’t any sore thumbs that stick out, and a handful of them are obvious pros.
Gaye Grant, who plays Desirée, controls the stage every time she steps onto it. It’s easy to believe Grant in her role as a famed actress because she’s so completely charismatic, twirling men around her finger like a lock of hair. It’s also her fierce rendition of “Send in the Clowns” that serves as the production’s emotional climax. Likewise, Erin Warden as the count’s wife, Charlotte, is easily one of the show’s strongest actors. She exudes a crisp coolness as the wronged woman, demanding attention in every scene she graces.
Travis Ward-Osborne, who executes great comic relief as Henrik, is another high point. And Jeannie Westwood, who plays Desirée’s mother, delivers the perfect combination of majesty and whimsy.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of singing in A Little Night Music. And for the most part the cast shows off an array of enviable voices, although there are a few shaky moments along the way. Those bumps may have been magnified by the mics, which were turned up a few tads too loud when I saw the production. One of the beauties of Landmark Musicals is that its plays feature a live orchestra, and this one did not disappoint. Three cheers to the musicians.
A Little Night Music isn’t the best show Landmark Musicals has put on, but it’s solid, well-acted and well-sung. And it’s running through the end of the month.
A Little Night Music
Runs through July 31
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
Rodey Theater, UNM Center for the Arts
Tickets: $18, $20, $22