Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

“ ’Ship Within the Clowns’ is the preferred music Sondheim ever wrote.”

So mentioned critic Steve Cohen in 2014.

And he could also be proper.

However there are such a lot of dimensions to “A Little Night time Music” to admire that you’ll depart SLOC’s third staging of the musical (after 1978 and 1994) instructed, amused, touched, and admiring.

First, the present itself, 50 this yr. Because of the intelligent music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and a e-book by Wheeler, we’re shocked at each flip.

Tunes teeter on the sting of sprechgesang. Repartee jabs. The heartbeat of most songs is three-quarter time, fin de siècle waltzes that wrestle to suit robes and galluses, anticipating their very own dismemberment in Ravel’s “La Valse.” Instances change.

The plot springs from Ingmar Bergman’s “Smiles of a Summer time Night time,” and Swedish nights are lengthy. Three ironic smiles: on the younger, the silly, and the previous. Life winks constantly, and on this story the upper-crusts get their romantic comeuppance.

Watch out what you want for is one other solution to put it. Ask aged courtesan Madame Armfeldt (Pat Brady). Life turns into a hazy reminiscence anyway, as she recounts from her wheelchair throne in “Liaisons.”

The younger: her granddaughter, Frederika (Emma O’Kane); her manservant, Frid (Daniel Burns); 20-year-old Henrik Egerman (Michael Burns) and his 18-year-old stepmother, Anne (Ellya Winchester); and Petra (Jalissa Watson), Anne’s servant. All prospects lie earlier than them.

However fewer choices for the silly, the middle-aged: Desiree Armfeldt (Lindsey Dodd); her former lover, Fredrik Egerman (Shawn Olander-Hahn); her present amour, Carl-Magnus Malcolm (James W. Alexander); and Malcolm’s spouse, Charlotte (Elizabeth Corey). They cry, “Ou sont les neiges d’antan?”

Time has handed, however want stays.

Sondheim and Wheeler brilliantly spin these characters via conditions each humorous and unhappy, arriving at a satisfying denouement.

SLOC’s mounting of this Tony winner is superbly paced by director Brian Clemente, music director Robert Soricelli, and stage supervisor J.J. Paul. A pleasant singing and dancing quintet (Stephanie Saint Germain, Benjamin Hitrick, Brian Clemente, Christine Meglino, Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack) weaves out and in of the motion, commenting like a Greek refrain. Choreography by Amy Clark & Haley Van Alstyne captures the class and the confusion. The set modifications are effectively carried out.

The manufacturing, by Ashley & Spencer Lee, seems to be good. Interval costumes and hairstyles by, respectively, Cheryl Zatt and Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack, work. Clemente’s scenic design has imaginative touches. If I want the mattress had been extra steady than it was on opening night time and the lighting had been fine-tuned, I’m certain these considerations will likely be addressed because the run continues.

The forged: 15, and spot-on. Brady delivers bon mots so drolly that you simply need to keep in mind them to your personal functions. Michael Burns’s Henrik credibly despairs in “Later” and in a subsequent savage critique of adults.

Anne is a baby bride, and Winchester reveals the teenager’s have to please, bewilderment about her position, and, lastly, exuberance when she might be — nicely, a teen.

To Watson falls a curious music close to present’s finish, “The Miller’s Son.” (Learn Clemente’s astute feedback about it.) She conveys its that means with very good singing and joyous motion.

Because the middle-aged quartet — the characters in best emotional, sexual, and ethical peril — Alexander, Corey, Hahn, and Dodd are nonpareil.

Alexander’s bluster, scowls, and clarion tenor are an ass’s calling card. Scene-stealer Corey delivers Charlotte’s combination of pathos and poison with excellent timing, particularly in “Each Day a Little Loss of life.”

Olander-Hahn’s easy baritone and performing chops are as safe as I’ve ever seen them. An amusing music? A young second? Examine and test.

And the long-lasting “Ship within the Clowns”: on Friday, Dodd hushed the home, then introduced it down, not with a star flip however with the character’s coronary heart. After all, Dodd had ready us for this second with each line studying and gesture beforehand.

Certainly, bittersweet smiles on a winter’s night time.

“A Little Night time Music”

WHERE: Schenectady Gentle Opera Firm, 427 Franklin St.
WHEN: via January 29
HOW MUCH: $32-$25
MORE INFO: 518.730.7370, or sloctheater.org

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