With voices good enough to play a Broadway stage, “A Little Night Music” the Stephen Sondheim musical opened Oct. 24 at the Lodge at Ironwoods Park and amazed the audience with a plethora of talented actors belting out the Sondheim score with passion and vitality.
Leawood Stage mounted the difficult musical with Sondheim’s music and lyrics that accompany the book by Hugh Wheeler for a short three-performance run Oct. 24-26. Director Brasleton assembled an exquisite cast of voices to bring the difficult score to life.
The show contains all the elements of a French farce with absurd triangles involving two married couples where the men have outside affairs with the same noted actress. To add to the mix, an elderly grandmother talks to her granddaughter about her escapades with men when she was younger. Adding to the lust, one young man finds himself conflicted because he realizes he has fallen in love with his step-mother.
“One of the bigger feathers of any performing artist is to tackle the work of Stephen Sondheim,” Brasleton said. “I didn’t really dawn on me how masterfully Mr. Sondheim chooses his material when creating a musical. Sondheim’s shows are often equal in complexity to his scores. Every note expertly placed. every rhyme skillfully mapped, every word exquisitely laid out.”
While the show is not slap-stick comedy, the idea behind the music and the love triangles is reminiscent of early movie melodramas with intersecting love triangles. Brasleton found the humor of the piece and coached his actors to bring the comedy to the front for the audience’s approval.
“A Little Night Music’is not a task to take on lightly– either as director or musical director. Thankfully, I ended up with a cast that taught me things that my countless hours of research could not have, and they came alongside to embrace the project with incredible talent, humor, and aplomb,” Brasleton said.
Other acting companies have produced the show in recent years and the comedy was lost. In this case, comedy and the circumstances created by the conflicting triangles keeps the audience involved and enjoying the production.
“This dramatic musical celebration of love is full of hilariously witty and heartbreakingly moving moments of adoration, regret, and desire as relevant today as in 1900 Sweden,” Brasleton said.
As for the singing, it is doubtful to find a cast with such strong voices from top to bottom. The score demands strong solo voices and also voices that blend well in duet and quartet numbers. Expect to hear both.
Standout performances come from the two leads Robert Hingula and Tracy Fox as Frederick and Desiree. Their acting and singing talents drive this musical.
The cast includes: Victor Castillo, Stephanie Charlton, Ruth Bigus, Whitney Armstrong, Darcie Hingula, Dee Dee Diemer, John Van de Vort, Brad Light, Lauren Crane, Robert Hingula, Sara Goering, Tracy Fox, Corrine Bakker, Larry Bigus, David Martin, Bridget Pfeiffer, and Teddi Castillo.
For a community theatre piece, this production stands above and beyond most other locally produced shows. The show comes with the highest recommendations, and is appropriate for family viewing. For tickets and more information check the Leawood Stage website.