Running since November 2009 A revival of Stephen Sondheim's sophisticated 1973 musical, now starring Tony-winners Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. Closes January 9th.
The Broadway production of A Little Night Music closed January 9, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
Based on Ingmar Bergman's film "Smiles of a Summer Night" and set in a weekend country house in turn of the century Sweden, this is an urbane, elegant musical for adults and mature adolescents, featuring a wonderfully wistful waltz-filled score and three bittersweet, intertwined love stories.
NYC critics were not altogether happy with this production, with many finding the direction heavy-handed and some of the performances a bit overzealous. Audiences, on the other hand, have been ecstatic, both with the current cast and the original (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury).
A prolific composer and lyricist for more than 50 years, Stephen Sondheim has written hundreds (maybe thousands) of songs, but "Send in the Clowns" from "A Little Night Music" is the only one that became a pop hit. Here's a clip of Ms. Peters' (very slow!) version:
2010 Tony awards: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Catherine Zeta-Jones). 2010 Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Catherine Zeta-Jones). 2010 Outer Critics Circle Awards: Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Suddenly, the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical is aglow with a brilliant and irresistible warmth. The tag-team triumph of Peters and Stritch doesn't erase nagging issues with director Trevor Nunn's production from London's Menier Chocolate Factory. On the plus side, the cast has greatly improved in the last eight months.
The enchanting, moonstruck musical is a curious affair. There are some lovely moments, but too much of this adult, sophisticated show seems forced, boisterous and a little crude. Which is a shame since Stephen Sondheim's waltz-infused score is artfully integrated into Hugh Wheeler's bittersweet tale.
Peters continues to be the ageless, adorable living doll we treasure, though despite some uncustomary mugging this is not exactly what the [role] calls for. But it is a vast improvement over her predecessor. Stritch is both actress and personality, and her highly idiosyncratic gestures, intonations and pauses add a whole comically offbeat subtext to the role. Nunn's staging is subtly incisive. Over nearly four decades since its premiere, I have come to appreciate the show a good deal more than I originally did.
New York Observer
Aside from Ms. Stritch's frailties, the entire evening is thrilling: two musical-theater legends, in a fine production of a canonical show. And those frailties might make it even more rewarding: Night Music now provides both the pleasure of a great evening of the theater and the relief of seeing Ms. Strich make it successfully to the end.
New York Post
Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch are doing more than merely replacing Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, respectively. They have transformed the entire show. Like a rising tide lifting all boats, the newcomers have inspired the original cast to raise its game. With everybody firing on all cylinders, Nunn's spare, twilit staging finally makes sense, and even the smallness of the orchestra feels appropriate.
New York Times
For theater lovers there can be no greater current pleasure than to witness Bernadette Peters perform the show's signature number, "Send In the Clowns," with an emotional transparency and musical delicacy that turns this celebrated song into an occasion of transporting artistry. The nuanced truth Ms. Peters brings to this scene is not, unfortunately, the overall hallmark of this production. For long stretches Mr. Nunn's staging seems to be waltzing in cement shoes. The cool ferocity of Ms. Stritch's Madame Armfeldt often shades into something approaching existential fear.
Trevor Nunn's production is just as visually drab, skimpy and underwhelmingly cast. And, even with the introduction of two more galvanic Sondheim masters, the musical splendor remains muted by another of those scandalously reduced orchestras. Still Peters fits exquisitely into the toughening but still luminescent skin of Desiree, the world-wise actress who discovers that an old love (the dashing Alexander Hanson) brings new vulnerability. Then there is Stritch, amazing at 85, cast wildly against type as the aging high-class courtesan.
As modern musicals go, it's considered by many the gold standard and this production turns out to be beautiful and deeply resonant, hitting every note with stunning honesty. Trevor Nunn's direction cut right to the soul of this work, meticulously casting great voices all equally adept as actors. The complex material is well served by all of them.
What a difference a diva makes. Bernadette Peters steps into the six-month-old revival of Night Music" with a transfixing performance. Peters gives us a rich, warm and comedically human Desiree. This new edition of "Night Music" transforms [the] lackluster revival. Stritch wields a sharp comedic scalpel. The continuing cast shows a marked improvement.
The news from [the new cast], while not much to ecstasize over, is mostly good. Nothing will cure the production's numerous shortcomings-it remains, among its other demerits, about the most unattractively designed show in the history of musical theater-but a great deal has been done, by various means, to improve matters, and the net result is a considerably more satisfying experience than it was last December. Everything feels different. What seemed dumbed down has been somewhat smartened up.
January 8, 2011
This show was fantastic! It is a shame that it is closing. Elaine Stritch, Roberta Peters, and all of the cast were extraordinary. I will now try to attend any other Sondheim show, anywhere.
January 1, 2011
Show was outstanding. Bernadette Peters is a splendid comedienne. The house is wonderfully intimate. The seats themselves are impossible -- cramped and too intimate. Supporting cast quite good. Should not be missed by Sondheim fans and anyone else who would like to admire his genius. Sets uninspired.
December 12, 2010
The best show we've seen in years.