Stephen Sondheim is a particular favourite of mine. I love his witty lyrics (as in A West Side Story) and off beat harmonies. I am in awe of his ability to blend voices and lyrics to create one song. When I heard that Opera North were mounting a production of A Little Night Music it felt like a match made in heaven and so it proved to be.
By Angie Millard
It is a story of love triangles and features three emancipated women and two others who are eager to learn. The plot is set in a world of old style theatre and turn of the century values but with the added twist of regret for the past.
The show features Sondheim’s greatest hit Send in the Clowns and it is interesting that this number was an afterthought because it encapsulates everything the show is about. Stephanie Coley wrings every ounce of self-mockery from the lyrics.
At times, the plot is French farce, at others Viennese Operetta yet Sondheim manages to inject his usual poignancy. The number Every day a little Death sung by the countess says all we need to know about infidelity. The song And I shall Marry The Miller’s Son tells of living life to the full while you can.
The cast are invited to a house party hosted by Desiree’s mother, Madame Armfeldt, and the excited anticipation felt in the joyous A Weekend in The Country is debunked by the beautifully regretful rendition of the song given by Stephanie Corley.
The set is a triumph with the use of a doll’s house and a Victorian bed representing themes in the piece. The second half has a working fountain centre stage and full use is made of the water.
I don’t think the play has the more modern message of Company or the bravura of Follies but it offers Opera North a magnificent opportunity to showcase their talent.
A Little Night Musicis being performed at Leeds Playhouse until 17 July 2021. The director is James Brining; Conducter is James Holmes/ Oliver Rundell. Set and costumes are designed by Madelaine Boyd and the Lighting design is by Chris Davey.
The cast are: Desiree: Stephanie Corley; Fredrick Egerman: Quirijn de Lang; Anne: Corinne Cowling; Henrick: Laurence Kilsby; Madame Armfeldt: Dame Josephine Barstow; Petra: Amy J. Payne; Count Malcolm: Chtistopher Nairne; Countess Malcolm: Helan Evora; Mrs Nordstom: Gillene Butterfield; The quintet: The Opera North Chorus.