By Rena Carman
Nathan Hurwitz’s vision for A Little Night Music, presented Feb. 24-28, brought out the essential theme of redemption. The musical was adapted from Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 film, Smiles of a Summer Night.
A Little Night Music strays from the stereotypical love triangle and provides a more interesting and complicated pattern. Fredrik Egerman (senior popular music studies major Eddie Brandt) has remarried a young woman, Anne Egerman (senior musical theater major Lilli Babb), who is 30 years his junior, but he has harbored feelings for a lost love, Desiree Armfeldt (junior musical theater major Alexa Canelos).
Desiree has been having an affair with Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (junior musical theater major Lephate Cunningham III), who is married to Countess Charlotte Malcolm (senior musical theater major Chloe Voreis), but her feelings for Fredrik seem to have also remained, evidenced by her daughter being named Fredrika (junior musical theater major Anastasia Zeiler).
To further complicate things, Fredrik’s son, Henrik Egerman (junior musical theater major Daniel Joseph Maldonado), is in love with his new stepmother, Anne. These characters have made mistakes in their love lives and plan to fix them.
Anne, who has been married to Fredrik for 11 months, has managed to stay a virgin. In a scene where Anne is preparing to attend a play with Fredrik later in the night, Anne blabbers on about evening wear, while Fredrik sings about his desires. Anne’s childish blather and Fredrik’s deep-toned, debate-like singing show the different interests of the characters. Even though Fredrik goes back and forth between taking a nap or taking action on his desires, he winds up yawning himself to sleep. This received quite a laugh from the audience, especially since Henrik was in the other room writing quietly during this whole scene.
One scene in particular that was performed well occurred as the actors paused, and the chorus came out to sing and dance around them. Strategic lighting kept the singers and speakers in light while the others remained in the dark.
The production’s scene changes went flawlessly and the stage was set in a way that allowed such fluidity to happen effectively. The props and scenery also reflected the traditional feel of the play and nothing was out of place.
Babb encapsulated the naivety and innocence of Anne Egerman through her actions of sitting on her legs while on a chair, and by her constant giggling and girlish teasing of Henrik.
Canelos embodied Desiree’s dignified acceptance of who she is. The character lives and thrives in chaos, which was shown in the actress’s confident walk and sultry voice.
Malcolm, jealous after catching Fredrik and Desiree together, returns to his wife and explains his woes. Cunningham manifested the military personality and power of Malcolm in such a way that you would think he was enlisted himself. His powerful voice and stance dominated the stage when his character was present. Malcolm’s wife, a jealous and sad woman, runs to her friend Anne at her husband’s command to report Fredrik’s cheating. Her sarcasm and humorous outlook on her own despair make this complicated character shine.
Desiree, unaware of this, invites the Egermans to a weekend get away in the country to try and steal Fredrik back. Unbeknownst to her, the Count and Countess have decided to invade.
This is when things get interesting.
In the country, the situation escalates, especially regarding Henrik, who almost exposes his love for Anne in a fit of rage over how the other guests are acting. Henrik’s character is a sad, lost soul who is never taken seriously and is always told he will be listened to later. His emotions throughout the play build wonderfully until he finally lets loose. Maldonado did a fantastic job portraying Henrik’s frustrations, especially in his performance of “Later” in Act I.
There are a lot of love or attempts at love in the country. Petra (senior musical theater major Samantha Funk), the Egermans’ maid, accompanies the Egermans on the trip. Her interest in Henrik evaporates as soon as she meets Fid (senior musical theater major Braden Sweeney), a handsome servant in the Armfeldt household. Petra’s take on how much love there is in the world and the banality of loving one person forever was intensified by the red stage lights assuming the passion and lust she had within her.
Canelos’s wry performance of “Send in the Clowns” conveyed Desiree’s disappointment of the ironies of her life. The music made the audience members reflect on their own romances and remember moments when they saw the night smile.
A Little Night Music is a story of fixing mistakes and finding the right love. It has timeless relatability for both Rider students and faculty members.
Published in the 3/02/16 edition.