A Little Night Music at the Palace
A one-off concert in the West End marked the milestone, featuring a 25-piece orchestra under the musical direction of the superbly talented Alex Parker, whose previous work includes Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward.
Perhaps the most thematically cohesive of Sondheim’s work, A Little Night Music is a light-hearted yet complex musing on love and regret, with a surprisingly intricate plot inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1956 film, Smiles of a Summer Night.
Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, the story centres on middle-aged lawyer Fredrik Egerman (David Birrell) who is struggling to hang onto the last vestiges of his youth through his virginal, teenage trophy wife Anne (Anna O’Bryne). Fredrik’s life is thrown into upheaval when he sees his former lover, actress Desiree Armfeldt, who is currently the mistress of Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm. The two rekindle their affair, prompting Anne to team up with Malcolm’s long-suffering wife Charlotte to hatch their revenge.
The rich plot is enhanced by an expert ensemble, who raise the inherent comedy to new heights. Janie Dee is particularly glorious as enigmatic home-wrecker Desiree, and Jamie Parker is a force of nature as the wildly overblown chauvinist Malcolm. Laura Pitt-Pulford wowed as Egerman’s maid Petra, with a spirited rendition of The Miller’s Son. The biggest laughs of the night came from Joanna Riding, who as the ever-morose Charlotte delivered an unending stream of flawless one-liners.
Hilarious and thought-provoking in equal measure, A Little Night Music is an in-depth critique on the nature of love, handled with a deftness most modern romantic comedies fail to match. Engrossing throughout, and smartly choreographed, it’s easy to forget that this is a staged concert and not a full-blown musical. It’s a shame this only runs for one evening, because such a winning production from Alex Parker would surely be a hit.
Photo: Darren Bell
A Little Night Music was a one-off event at the Palace Theatre, for further information about future events visit here.