Sondheim's A Little Night Music is performed enthusiastically by MTG@ByName:
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
By Stephen Sondheim.
MIT Musical Theatre Guild.
F. Burris Jackes '90, director.
Sala de Puerto Rico,
February 9-11, 8 pm.
By SHULAMIT LERNER
ASTEPHEN SONDHEIM SHOW IS<>
Set in Sweden in the early 1900s, the storyline follows the conflict between two men, Fredrik Egerman (Michael Friedhoff '90) and Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Mike Pieck '92), over the favors of their shared mistress, the seedy actress Desiree Armfeldt (Rina Cerulli '86). The Count wishes Desiree to be solely his own, but the Countess desires her husband to be free of his mistress, and Fredrik's son, Hendrick (Stephen Peters '91), longs to elope with his new stepmother in a very Freudian fashion. When they spend a weekend in the country at Desiree's mother's mansion, all of this surfaces, and chaos ensues.
Clever lyrics are the basis to understanding the subtleties that underlie the plot. Unfortunately, the difficulty of trying to figure out what the actors were saying plagued MTG's production and did detract from the overall excellence of the performance.
Sondheim's score is in three-quarters time, and this occasionally explodes into adept waltzing. However, when Sondheim also tries to stuff as many words as he can fit into his songs, the actors have a difficult time trying to simultaneously keep up with the music and act. They're forced to choose between the two. Major characters focused on their acting and, with the exception of Cerulli, words were not enunciated clearly enough to be understood by members of the audience.
On the other hand, some members of the company seemed to forget that they were supposed to be doing anything other than hit the correct notes. The orchestra played well, and the audience seldom had reason to flinch. However, when the actors could be understood, they were drowned out by an overzealous orchestra, despite poor acoustics in the Sala. The set was constructed very cleverly to allow for quick changes, but it seems that the stagehands were caught off guard more than once when the lights were turned on before the scene change was completed.
Interplay among the actors was superb. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and one got the impression that they were really having fun up on stage. The only problem regarding acting by the main characters was that while one was speaking, the other actors forgot to react to what he or she was saying. This was a minor complaint, though, especially when one realizes that they could have been overacting instead.
The only song from A Little Night Music MTG's casting was fantastic. Every one of the main characters was portrayed with a good balance of showmanship and realism. Exceptional performances included those of Julie Arvedon as the flirtatious maid Petra, Kim Fusaris '90 as Charlotte, the Countess, and by Heather Hays '92, as a member of the Company.
MTG's A Little Night Music