By Samantha Reed
Theatergoers can expect to be waltzed through time to the end of the 19th century this week, as Rider presents its first musical of the spring semester, A Little Night Music.
Set in Sweden, the story revolves around the lives of several couples, as they struggle to find and be true to themselves, while redeeming the mistakes of their past. A romantic tale of wit and heartbreak, A Little Night Music reaches audiences on a level everyone can relate to.
With characters spanning from teens to the elderly, the actors in this production had to reach new heights to convey experiences they might not be familiar with, so the audience might know firsthand.
Senior popular music culture major Eddie Brandt stars as one of the production’s leading men. Brandt, who has been in more than five shows at Rider, couldn’t be more honored to be ending his Rider musical career with a production as mesmerizing as A Little Night Music. Brandt’s character, Fredrik Engerman, is a man in his 40s who is faithful to his naive teenage wife, Anne, but still has feelings when he finds himself reconnecting with an old flame, Desiree. This is something Brandt personally hasn’t experienced, but knows how relevant it may be for some watching the show. He’s grown to love the challenge that comes with acting as someone so far from himself.
Senior musical theater major and Brandt’s counterpart in the show, Lilli Babb, agrees with her co-star that the challenges that come with A Little Night Music are what make this production absorbing. Babb recalls a specific experience when the actresses in the show, who are costumed in corsets, worked with movement coach Meade Andrews to learn how to sing and dance without the corset restricting them.
“The show is about redemption,” Babb explained. “Our director has said it over and over again that each character has made mistakes, as we all have, and they’ve got to figure out where to go from here. And I think that’s what makes the show so relatable and so enjoyable for so many.”
Both actors are grateful for the amount of time they have to rehearse and prepare for the show. “We’ve been fully blocked for a little while now,” Brandt recalled. “Every night we run through the show, we discover something new. It’s a truly remarkable thing, for us as actors, to be able to do.”
Both Brandt and Babb spoke highly of their director, Dr. Nathan Hurwitz, whose résumé includes regional, national and Broadway credits. The show is musically directed by Louis Goldberg and choreographed by Kate Snow.
Based on Ingmar Bergman’s comedy of manners Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music has music and lyrics by Tony Award, Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Sondheim. A Little Night Music won the Grammy for best score from an original cast album in 1973 and its show-stopping ballad, “Send in the Clowns,” won the Grammy for song of the year in 1975. Its most recent Broadway revival was in 2009, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as Desiree Armfeldt and Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt.
Patrons can see a preview of A Little Night Music in the Yvonne Theater, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The show, which opens Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m., has performances through Feb. 28. Tickets are available online, over the phone or at the box office.
Printed in the 2/24/16 edition.