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MTG sings better than it acts in Night Music

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

MIT Musical Theater Guild.

Directed by Paul Dixon.

Orchestra directed by Stephanie Rosch '98.

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Book by Hugh Wheeler.

Starring Grace Colon PhD '95, Chris Drew '96, Debbie S Hyams '97, Evan Sherbrooke PhD '95.

La Sala de Puerto Rico.

February 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 at 8 pm and February 4 at 2 pm.

By Teresa Huang

The Musical Theater Guild's disappointing performance of A Little Night Music can best be described as a waste of potential talent. Though the show was excellently cast and sung, their portrayal of Stephen Sondheim's story of love triangles and unrequited love is weakened by poor acting and presentation.

A Little Night Music presents the situations of several dysfunctional relationships, primarily that of Frederik Egerman (Chris Drew '96) and his young-enough-to-be-his-daughter wife Anne (Debbie S. Hyams '97), whose eleven month marriage is interrupted by the reappearance of Frederik's former lover Desiree Armfeldt (Grace Colon PhD '95). Meanwhile, Desiree's current lover Count Carl-Magnus (Ulf D. Ekernas '99) is determined to keep his lover his own just as he has enslaved his hopelessly faithful wife Charlotte (Teresa J. Raine '97). Frederik's adolescent son Henrik (Evan Sherbrooke PhD '95) from a previous marriage is confused and torn between his dedication to become a man of God, his forbidden love for his stepmother Anne, and his attraction to their house's servant Petra (Cara B. Loughlin '97).

The immediately obvious strength of the show is in the terrific costumes, which were very lavish and matched the time setting of the story line well. Every dress and suit was carefully designed to reflect each character's personality in the show, from the elegant gowns of a famous actress to the stiff uniforms of a dragoon.

Without a doubt, the show was stolen by Hyams' splendid portrayal of the young and foolish Anne Egerman. From the flounces on her dress to the bubble in her voice, Hyams gave a wonderful performance with a constant smile on her face and consistent childish accent. Her singing was excellent as well, though she seemed to be indecisive on her register choices in her solo "Soon." Also excellent was Ekernas as the rigid and insanely jealous Carl-Magnus, though he could stand to look at his wife rather than past her when speaking to her. "In Praise of Women" was well done with just the right demanding tone and stiffness.

The omniscient quintet made up of Jake M. Yara '95, Bill Lin '94, Allison Werner W. '98, Yuka N. Miyake '99, and Sarah J. Dash '99 was excellently sung, though their importance and role in the show were poorly presented. There was also too much overpowering of the orchestra and not enough heard of Yara and Lin's melodic voices. And all of them, like everyone in the show except for Anne and Carl-Magnus, could stand to smile a lot more.

A Little Night Music is about relationships, yet ironically enough, most of the interactions between characters did not seem natural or comfortable. Petra seemed cold to all characters and Frederik's affection for Anne was not very apparent. Henrik's genuine and natural interaction with Anne, however, was the best in the show. Also effective was Frederik's interaction with Desiree in the poignant bedroom scene, the climax of the show where the famous "Send in the Clowns" is sung.

The show seemed to have been cast by who could sing and not necessarily by who could act, which drew away from the show a great deal. But even the singing was not quite right, as many of the cast members seemed to just be singing rather than realizing that the songs are as equally as important as the dialogue in furthering the plot of the story. Many of Sondheim's intricacies were lost, like the clever overlapping and switching of words in "Soon/Now/Later."

Despite all its problems, A Little Night Music does manage at least to hold itself together through the end and is a respectable display for a show prepared within a month. And it's still a Sondheim musical, which promises an entertaining evening regardless of presentation. See it if only to find out what "Send in the Clowns" really means.