BoHo Theatre Presents A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC Review – Exquisite Score

Boho Theatre A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Charismatic Kelli Harrington as Desiree Armfeldt sings SEND IN THE CLOWNS to her one-time lover Fredrik Egerman (Peter Robel) Photo: Liz Lauren

It seems that no matter how many times this writer has seen it, or listened to the recording, the song Send in the Clowns—a trademark of sorts for this Sondheim musical, or at least one of them—seems surprisingly short. It marks a turning point in the dramatic action, when the female lead, Desiree, sizes up the folly of her life to date--- a mid-life crisis in but a few bars. Near the play’s finale, she is singing to Fredrik Egerman, a love interest of her youth, whom she had been conspiring to lure away from his young wife and join her in a mature life path.

Though from a stage right seat in the fourth row this scene was largely impossible to view until charismatic actress Kelli Harrington playing Desiree Armfeldt moved center stage showing that she is almost tearing , her voice and presence reels us in and holds us close. She does so with nearly every one of her lines and lyrics in A Little Night Music, infusing the quips of her character with a timing that makes her spirited character feel true to the name her love adventuress mother (Mme. Armfeldt, played by Marguerite Mariama) had bestowed on her. No wonder Fredrik (Peter Robel)— whose young wife remains a virgin nearly a year out from their marriage— has erotic dreams about Desiree rather than his wife Anne (Rachel Guth)! In the common vernacular – she’s HOT!

BoHo Theatre Gives Chance to Hear Exquisite Sondheim Score

Though Harrington’s vocal rendition of this famous Send in the Clowns song is steeped with spot-on affect, this writer at least, found her relatively faint and imbalanced with the four musicians on stage playing the exquisite music in Sondheim’s score, that also includes classics such as The Miller’s Son (sung by Petra the maid, played by Teresa LaGamba) and A Weekend in the Country (sung by the ensemble).  This is music as captivating as Harrington’s Desiree.  Anyone who hasn’t seen A Little Night Music  before owes it to themselves to take in this production.  It is quintessential Sondheim sound.

However, fellow Sondheim enthusiasts may similarly experience this production  like a loud rock band concert where you never get the lyrics‑ the sound imbalance a constant irritation.  From the program notes we learn that most of the cast has classically trained opera voices.  With no Adler & Sullivan acoustical engineering aiding them, many of these voices seem lost and in need of a mic.

Like the sound, the performances struck this writer as a bit uneven, and perhaps ones that will improve once opening night jitters are gone.

Boho Theatre A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Ensemble
Boho Theatre A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Stephanie Stockstill as Countess Charlotte Malcolm shows her comic chops, in this scene with Anne Egerman played by Rachel Guth
Boho Theatre A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Throughout the play, the action is moved along with funny lyric commentary by singers (l to r) Rachel Kippel, Ross Matsuda, Nicole Bessa, Lazaro Estrada and Emily Goldberg

Standout talents included two of the comic male leads—Christopher Davis as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm and Jordan Dell Harris as Henrik Egerman.  It is great fun to see them sing and act in this play and their performances will likely compel many to keep track of where we will be able to take in their musical theater gifts next.

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED

Music and Lyrics:  Stephen Sondheim

Book:  Hugh Wheeler

Orchestrations:  Jonathan Tunick

Director: Linda Fortunato

Music Direction:  Tom Vendfreddo

Re-Orchestrations:  Malcolm Ruhl

Musicians: 

Piano/Conductor- Tom Vendafreddo, Woodwinds-Mike Matlock, Violin-Sarah Kim, Cello-Magdalena Sustere

Cast:

Kelli Harrington as Desiree Armfeldt,
Peter Robel as Fredrik Egerman, Christopher Davis as Carl-Magnus Malcolm, Stephanie Stockstill as Charlotte Malcolm, Rachel Guth as Anne Egerman,

Jordan Dell Harris as Henrik Egerman, Marguerite Mariama as Mme. Armfeldt, Isabelle Roberts as Fredrika Armfeldt, Teressa LaGamba as Petra,

with Nicole Besa, Lazaro Estrada, Emily Goldberg, Rachel Klippel, and Ross Matsuda as the Quintet.

Production Team:

Produced by Meg Love. 
Scenic Design by Evan Frank, Lighting Design by G. Max Maxin, Costume Design by Christina Leinicke, Sound Design by Tony Churchill, Properties Design by Mealah Heidenreich, Production Managed by Lindsay Brown, Stage Managed by Dalton Long.

When:

Thru July 8

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 2:30 pm.

Where:

Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago

Tickets:

$35

For tickets visit the BoHo Theatre website  or call (773) 404-7336

All Photos: Liz Lauren

 

 

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

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