Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

A Little Night Music
Barrington Stage Company
Review by Fred Sokol

Also see Fred's reviews of Anne of Green Gables and we are continuous

Slater Ashenhurst, Sierra Boggess, Cooper Grodin,
Emily Skinner, Jason Danieley, Sabina Collazo,
Noah Wolfe and Sophie Mings

Photo by Daniel Rader
Barrington Stage Company's A Little Night Music, continuing through August 28th, is hypnotically gorgeous. Set during the early part of the twentieth century in Sweden and based, to some measure, upon Ingmar Bergman's film, Smiles of a Summer Night, the locale of the bucolic Berkshires just now makes for a perfect match. Julianne Boyd, having directed another BSC production of this work 25 years ago, mixes and maximizes both racy and nuanced moments. Hugh Wheeler wrote the show's book, yet this classic epitomizes the exquisite talents of the late Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics.

Complex and lengthy, a virtual chorus of performers sing and dance everyone into the play through "Night Waltz" and eventually "The Glamorous Life." The story reveals that attorney Fredrik Egerman (Jason Danieley) married, eleven months before, Anne (Sabina Collazo), who remains a virgin. Fredrik has a son named Henrik (Noah Wolfe) who might become a clergyman but is completely smitten with Anne. Fredrik's mistress, back in another day, was Desiree Armfeldt (Emily Skinner), who experienced fame as an actress but is now relegated to smaller, diminished roles. Desiree and Fredrik combine voices on "You Must Meet My Wife." Desiree's daughter, Fredrika (Kate Day Magocsi), visits with old, wheelchair-bound Madame Armfeldt (Mary Beth Peil) who shares and imparts wisdom (within the song, "Liaisons") to her granddaughter. It's fairly complicated and there's much more.

Desiree currently cavorts with Count Carl Magus Malcolm (Cooper Grodin), even if he's married to Countess Charlotte Malcolm (Sierra Boggess). It would be negligent to omit mention of the promiscuous maid, Petra (Sophie Mings), who is not afraid to loosen her upper garment. The first act concludes as the entire company participates in "A Weekend in the Country."

Yoon Bae's mesmerizing set includes a moveable pavilion and shifting colorful art behind it. David Lander's many lighting choices provide proactive tone throughout. Sara Jean Tosetti's costuming, too, adds sharp flavor; the outfits are filled with splashes of color.

The second portion of performance has a far more melancholic feel to it and this reaches culmination when Fredrik and Desiree have a scene alone. As genuine tears begin to stream down her face, Emily Skinner, completely in character as Desiree, bequeaths "Send in the Clowns" in breathtaking fashion. It's a privilege to watch such a dear and still profound interpretation of a now-famous song.

A Little Night Music is vocally demanding, and this cast, as Darren R. Cohen assists Boyd with his musical direction, is dextrous throughout. Sondheim forces performers to extend range. Further, "Perpetual Anticipation" requires counterpoint as the number asks singers to mix one melodic line with another. Jonathan Tunick furnished the original orchestrations. Finally, the show is one of movement. Each act commences with group waltz and Robert La Fosse's choreography encourages grace and fluency.

The presentation is an emotional but not overly sentimental ride. Boyd takes care never to rush her actors although she does vary pace. Some characters are more multi-dimensional than others and each member of this cast is impressive. Jason Danieley as Fredrik is conflicted since he currently is coupled with a young and attractive wife even is he is drawn to Desiree. The actor is spot-on. Skinner's turn rivets attention by absolutely inhabiting the middle-aged, once sterling leading lady. Mary Beth Peil finds an edge to elderly Madame Armfeldt. Andrew Marks Maughan, as Mr. Erlanson, lifts his strong voice and is quite distinguishable.

Boyd, Cohen and La Fosse worked together, some years ago, on an enduring Barrington Stage rendering of West Side Story, Now, they once again blend their creative touches to launch a most inspiring depiction of a memorable theater piece.

A Little Night Music runs through August 28, 2022, at Barrington Stage Company, 30 Union St., Pittsfield MA. For information and tickets, call 413-236-8888 or visit