Stephen Sondheim referred to A Little Night Music's characters as "silly people" and "clowns," and they gambol anew Sept. 7, when Sondheim's adult musical fairy tale opens (following previews that began Sept. 5) at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA.
Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie and Broadway's Merle Louise star as Desiree and Madame Armfeldt, respectively, in director-choreographer Barry Ivan's company, which includes Jeff McCarthy (Frederick), Chuck Wagner (Carl-Magnus) and Diana Canova (Charlotte).
The 1973 musical that uses variations of three-quarter time won six Tony Awards and drew from Ingmar Bergman's film, "Smiles of a Summer Night." The summer twilight in Sweden lingers and pours down on a lawyer, his virgin wife, his ex-lover, her soldier lover, his acidic wife and assorted others in what's considered a masterpiece of sophisticated musical comedy commentary on the subject of the folly of love.
The book is by Hugh Wheeler, the music and lyrics by Sondheim. This is the North Shore premiere of the show that begat "Send in the Clowns."
McKechnie appeared in Sondheim's Company and played Sally in the Paper Mill Playhouse revival of Sondheim's Follies in 1998. McKechnie may be best known for her Tony Award-winning performance as Cassie in A Chorus Line. Merle Louise played Fraulein Schneider in NSMT's 1996 production of Cabaret, and created the role of Molina's mother in the original Toronto, London and Broadway companies of Kiss of the Spider Woman. She was also the Beggar Woman in Broadway's Sweeney Todd. She also originated the role of Susan in Company.
Performances continue to Sept. 24.
Tickets range from $18-$56. NSMT is at 62 Dunham Road, in Beverly. Call (978) 232-7200 or visit the web site at http://www.nsmt.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones