A Little Night Music

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Based on Ingmar Bergman's Smiles on a Summer Night

Artwork by Bill Burgard

October 14 - 16 at 8 PM
October 17 at 2 PM
Mendelssohn Theatre

press release | program | photographs | designs

Press Release
The University of Michigan's Musical Theatre Department will present Stephen Sondheim's lyrically sophisticated all-waltz musical, "A Little Night Music," from October 14 through 17, at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre in Ann Arbor. Originally presented at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway in 1973, this five-time Tony Award-winning musical takes its story and theme from Ingmar Bergman's highly respected film, "Smiles of a Summer Night" (1955).

"A Little Night Music" is a sophisticated but at the same time very charming period comedy that applies razor sharp intelligence in portraying its characters unarticulated desires. Although set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, Sondheim's musical explores some surprisingly contemporary themes: sex, the free expression of desire, self-awareness, chastity, and fidelity in marriage. Sondheim's score brilliantly magnifies the tensions that are created when an odd assortment of mis-matched lovers spend a weekend together in the country. With remarkable dexterity and acumen, Sondheim uses the musical form of the Waltz as metaphor for the triangles created by the ever-changing liaisons between husbands, wives, mistresses, and innocents.

Director Gary Bird ("Grand Hotel," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," "West Side Story," "Anything Goes") sees "A Little Night Music" as a significant variation in Sondheim's evolution as an artist. "He had just finished two ground-breaking non-conventional musicals ("Company" and "Follies")" Bird explains, "when he suddenly shifts gears and presents us with a seemingly conventional piece, a 'book' musical with what appears to be a standard plot. But the surprise is really found in Sondheim's well-crafted score, and in the inventive and memorable libretto. "A Little Night Music," Bird adds," contains what has become, perhaps, Stephen Sondheim's best known song, 'Send In The Clowns.'"

The plot is filled with complicated twists and turns. A lawyer, Fredrik Egerman, has married a woman many years his junior. In spite of six months of marriage, his wife remains a virgin. Frustrated, Egerman turns to an old flame: the actress Desiree Armfeldt. As chance would have it, Desiree is currently involved with martinet officer and nobleman, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, whose wife just happens to be a friend of Egerman's young wife. Complicating matters, Egerman's young son from a previous marriage, Henrik, is enamored of his father's new wife. Henrik's problems are heightened by the fact that he is currently a student in a Lutheran seminary; he is having a very difficult time reconciling his sexual desires with his faith. Things come to a head when Desiree invites everyone to a weekend outing. Chaos and merriment ensues: tears and recriminations, duels and seductions lead the way to a surprising resolution for all concerned. It's a delightful piece of theatre.

"A Little Night Music" features an illustrious artistic team composed of some of the University's finest designers. Costume designer Jessica Hahn (Head of the Design Program in the Department of Theatre and Drama, and recipient of three Joseph Jefferson awards) has created an elegant wardrobe of period gowns and day-wear: sequins, taffeta, and tuxedos abound. Ms. Hahn has created costumes for more than a dozen productions with the U-of-M, including "Orphan Train," "Anything Goes," "Better Living," and "The Music Man." The scenic design is by Gary Decker, whose design credits include recent U-M productions such as "The Magic Flute," "Grand Hotel" and "The Best People." Gary is also well known in local regional theatre, having designed for the Gem, the Attic, the Birmingham, the Boarshead, and the Purple Rose theatres. The long Nordic summer night will receive its illumination from lighting designer Justin Richard Burleson. Mr. Burleson is a BFA candidate in the Theatre Department. His extensive (for an undergraduate) U-M design credits include "The Magic Flute," "Endgame," "The Crucible" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Click here to view the A Little Night Music program as a PDF file

Production Photographs

Natalie Ross, Craig McEldowney, Caroline Peacock The Liebeslieder Singers Justin Miller, Jessica Murphy
Patti Lavery as Desiree Todd Buonopane as Madame Armfeldt and Charly Seamon as Fredrika Alexander C. Gemignani as Fredrik Egerman

J.P. Potter as Henrik Egerman and
Celia Kennan-Bolger as Petra
Courtney Balan as Anne Egerman Maclain Looper as Count Magnus and Madeleine Wyatt as Charlotte Malcolm

Production Designs

Set design by Gary Decker

Costume designs by Jessica Hahn
Fredrika Charlotte Fredrik