Lyrical and Fun: 'A Little Night Music'
Lyric Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” was charmingly lyrical in every way. Director Michael Baron chose the perfect cast and technical team. Music director David Andrews Rogers and choreographer Jeremy Benton moved voices and bodies with the skill of impressionist painters. Sets and costumes—all local by local designers—were beautiful and creatively set the stage. The palette of color and form provided a coherent and gently magical environment for the interwoven stories of funny and pathetic mismatched lovers set in the Polish countryside in 1900.
Fredrik Egerman (a strong performance by George Dvorsky) is struggling with his relationships with his young wife Anne (Maggie Spicer) and his son Henrik (Russell McCook). Fredrik and Anne have not consummated their marriage of nearly a year, so Frederik seeks out an old flame, the famous actress Desiree Armfeldt (Dee Hoty), who is currently the mistress of the jealous Count Carl-Magnus Malcom (Mateja Govich). Carl-Magnus, his delightfully ascerbic wife Charlotte (brilliantly played by Emily Skinner), and the entire Egerton clan find themselves at the country house of Desiree’s mother, Madame Armfeldt (played with caustic charm by Charlotte Franklin), and all the relationships intersect and come unstuck.
Other characters affecting the story include the Egerton’s housemaid Petra (Lexi Windsor) who seduces Henrik and then has a fling with the Armfeldt’s servant Frid (Eric McNaughton). Desiree’s young daughter Fredrika (Kelsie Ward) comments on the action with her grandmother.
This show is all about pairings of various kinds, some touching, some sad, some very funny. Baron has mixed his colors well here, and all of the hues lifted off the canvas of the stage. Hoty and Dvorsky balanced each other well in maturity of performance and character; as a foil to their relationship, Spicer and McCook personified naïve and almost innocent adultery. Govich, a very funny deadpan martinet, was a great partner for Skinner, who came close to stealing the show. Ward and Franklin, a pair of voices joining across the spectrum of age, acted as a narrative chorus. Windsor and McNaughton, as the earthier servant pair, acted as a mirror of social class.
Jeffery Meek’s flawless period costumes and Adam Koch’s evocative birch forest settings created a (also period) impressionist environment for the story. Sets were opulent enough to convey the class and culture of the time and minimal enough to get out of the way—a difficult balance to achieve. The use of the turntable, in addition to simplifying the set changes, also evokes the awkward whirlpool of emotion and interaction that comprises the story. The two automobiles that drove across the stage like territorial stags emblemized the pompous agonism of Fredrik and Carl-Magnus.
One measure of great technical work is that it is almost invisible—it creates and colors the scene without intrusion. Such was the case here; the lighting was particularly artistic in the woodland night scenes, where it painted the trunks of the birch trees with a watercolor lyricism, capturing the moving complexity of Windsor’s beautiful rendition of “The Miller’s Son.”
“A Little Night Music” runs this weekend through Saturday, August 9, at the Civic Center Music Hall. Performances are at 7:30 on Thursday and 8:00 on Friday and Saturday, with a 2:00 matinee Saturday afternoon. Call the ticket office at (405)-524-9312 or buy tickets online at www.lyrictheatreokc.com.