Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: A Little Night Music, Opera Australia

I saw Opera Australia's production of A Little Night Music in Sydney tonight.

For now, here's a brief-ish review.

I'll begin by admitting the show isn't my favourite Sondheim piece. It is everything he's loved for though: a satirical yet sadly realistic depiction of the best but usually the worst of people.

But onto the actual production...

Since I was reasonably unfamiliar with the music a lot of the lyrics in the quicker, wordier songs were almost completely lost on me. The Quintet harmonised beautifully but their diction was lacking at times. Sigrid Thornton was underwhelming- she could hold a tune but it was obvious in Send in the Clowns that she capitalised on telling the story via acting and speak-singing rather than through the use of her singing voice- which was disappointing but not unsurprising.

Anthony Warlow was his usual charming self who makes minced meat of almost any melody (anyone who can make Sondheim sound like little work deserves some praise!). Lucy Maunder was a convincing Anne and Katrina Retallick as Charlotte Malcolm and her husband played by Ben Lewis provided the lighter moments with great comedic timing. Nancye Hayes' "Liasons" was engaging and gave audiences a much needed moment to reflect on the thematic content of the show up to that point.

The use of a revolving section of the stage was effective and appropriately symbolic- particularly during the waltz at the beginning of the first act. Fredrick and Carl-Magnus' car skit at the beginning of the second act was also particularly funny and well staged.

The standout of the night was Kate Maree Hoolihan's "The Miller's Son". Perfectly delivered: singing, acting, staging and all.

The Opera House's incredibly inflated prices were a turn off (particularly for a musical) but it's understandable that the big names of Warlow and Thornton would be enough to deliver decent houses. On Wednesday night the auditorium was almost completely full; a healthy sign that there are people out there willing to give Wicked a break (at least for one night).

Overall, a good production but nothing particularly hair-raising (other than Hoolihan's belting ballad as noted). The show is food for thought though, to be sure, and a must see for Sondheim fans. Who knows when it will next get a life in Australia.

Rating: 3/5

A Little Night Music
Opera Australia
Sydney Opera House
Until July 15th, 2010

Director Stuart Maunder
Conductor Andrew Greene
Set & Costume Designer Roger Kirk
Lighting Designer Trudy Dalgleish
Choreographer Elizabeth Hill
Sound Designer John O'Donnell

Desiree Armfeldt Sigrid Thornton
Fredrick Egerman Anthony Warlow
Mme Armfeldt Nancye Hayes
Charlotte Malcolm Katrina Retallick
Carl-Magnus Malcolm Ben Lewis
Anne Egerman Lucy Maunder
Henrik Egerman Matthew Robinson
Petra Kate Maree Hoolihan
Fredrika Erica Lovell
Frid Anthony Lawrence
Mrs Nordstrom Katherine Wiles
Mrs Segstrom Jane Parkin
Mrs Anderssen Jacqueline Dark
Mr Erlanson Kanen Breen
Mr Lindquist Byron Watson

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