Review: A Little Night Music, Joseph Rowntree Theatre

20 Mar 2015 @ 8.38 pm
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Members of the company in the dinner party scene. Photographs: Andrea Denniss / Pink Lily Photography

A Little Night Music by York Musical Theatre Company

Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Till Sat, Mar 21

£16-£17

Company website

Set in 1900 Sweden, A Little Night Music explores the affairs of actress Desirée Armfeldt and the men who love her: Fredrik Egerman a lawyer and the Count Carl-Magnus Malcom.

Fredrik has married a 16 year old Anne and with the married unconsummated, when the actress performs in Fredrik’s town, the past lovers’ passion rekindles.

Jealousy and suspicion flourish between Desirée, Fredrik, Fredrick’s son and young wife Anne, Desirée’s current lover, the Count Malcolm, and the Count’s wife, Charlotte.

Desiree asks her aged mother to invite the Egerman’s for a weekend in the country and Count Malcolm hearing of this, gate crashes the event with his wife.

Thus the scene is set for new romances, second chances and surprising results.

As one would expect from Sondheim the music is captivating and the lyrics multi faceted at times very witty, then moving, capturing all the intricate moods of the complex liaisons (as Madame Armfeldt would say) unfolding before us.

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Richard Bainbridge and Michelle Todd, who play Fredrik Egerman and Desiree Armfeldt

From the moment the ensemble singers appear on stage we know we are in for a musical treat. Everyone is spot on musically and diction is excellent, all essential in a Sondheim musical.

Richard Bainbridge is a tour de force as Fredrik and his rendition of You Must Meet My Wife with the witty and sarcastic interjections from Desiree, a stunning Michelle Todd, sets the tone for the entire evening. Their duet Remember movingly sets the scene for what is to come.

Charlotte, well aware of her husband’s affair with Desirée, finds out about Fredrik and Desiree and can’t wait to tell Anne. In one of the many highlights of the evening Anna Mitchelson explains in Every Day A Little Death the lot of a wife having to live with the infidelity of men.

The full company ends the first act with a superb rendition of A Weekend In The Country.

In the second act Fredrik and Desirée discuss their future and Desirée believing Fredrik will stay with Anne sings Send In The Clowns, a magical moment of theatre, which places Michelle Todd up there with the best performers of this much loved classic.

Below stairs the maid who has given Anne some worldly advice about men, thinks of the joy and freedom that she longs for before becoming trapped in marriage. Kelly Derbyshire gives a saucy rendition of The Miller’s Son.

An evening of sheer delight with so many musical highlights, not least is the very competent orchestra, under the assured direction of Paul Laidlaw.

There are too few performances of this Sondheim classic and great credit to York Musical Theatre Company for a memorable performance.