Sondheim's A Little Night Music Waltzes Into NY City Opera March 7

News   Sondheim's A Little Night Music Waltzes Into NY City Opera March 7 Stephen Sondheim's waltz-rich A Little Night Music returns to the repertory of New York City Opera in a starry revival March 7 that has Jeremy Irons falling in love under a Swedish summer sky where the sun won't set.

Performances of the 1973 Tony Award-winning show play March 7-29 in repertory with other operatic works, at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Director Scott Ellis and choreographer Susan Stroman return to City Opera to re-stage their production first seen under the not-for-profit troupe's roof in the 1990s.

The current cast, playing only 15 performances, includes Jeremy Irons as Fredrik, Juliet Stevenson as Desiree, Claire Bloom as Madame Armfeldt, Kristin Huxfold as Anne, Jessica Boevers as Petra, Daniel Gurwin as Henrik, Michele Pawk as Charlotte and Marc Kudisch as Carl Magnus.

Anna Kendrick, Tony-nommed in 1998 for playing the little sister in High Society, is young Fredrika.

The role of Frid, Madame Armfeldt's randy butler, will be played by Quentin Marc. The Greek chorus of five liebeslieders (purposefully underlining the sexual tension — note there's a fifth wheel here) is made up of Stephanie Woodling, Kathryn Friest, Anna Christy, Michael Chioldi and James Schaffner.

Pawk, recently celebrated for her work in Broadway's Hollywood Arms, plays Charlotte, the dry and unhappy wife of a soldier, replacing Kate Burton, who had a scheduling conflict. Huxhold played the virginal Anne, the new wife to lawyer Fredrik, in a 2001 staging at Goodspeed Opera House. In the show, she promises to give her middle-aged husband (Irons) her virginity "soon." She also appeared as Emily in Madison Square Garden's A Christmas Carol and toured with Titanic.

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The initial City Opera production of A Little Night Music starred Sally Ann Howes as Desiree, and appeared on PBS.

Paul Gemignani will conduct. Designers are Michael Anania (scenic), Lindsay W. Davis (costumes) and Kenneth Posner (lighting).

Irons is the British actor who appeared in the films, "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and "Reversal of Fortune," and Broadway's The Real Thing; Stevenson appeared in such films as "Truly Madly Deeply," "Emma" and the current "Nicholas Nickleby"; Bloom is the stage and film actress who picked up a Tony nomination as Clytemnestra in Broadway's most recent Electra (and starred with Irons in TV's "Brideshead Revisited"); Pawk's credits include Off-Broadway's Reefer Madness and Broadway's hit revival of Cabaret; Gurwin appeared in Broadway's The Full Monty; Boevers created the role of Ado Annie for the current Broadway Oklahoma!; and Kudisch was Tony nommed for playing starchy boss Trevor in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The libretto of the musical is by Hugh Wheeler. Harold Prince was the show's original director.

Produced by the respected New York City Opera, A Little Night Music has less vocal excesses than Sondheim's more operatic Sweeney Todd (which City Opera will revive in 2003-04), though the roles of Anne, Henrik, Carl Magnus and the waltzing chorus in the Swedish-set musical show off what audiences would consider a legit sound worthy of operetta. The composer has said the show is written in European style, with nods to light opera; the score is in variations of three-quarter time.

A Little Night Music won 1973 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Actress (Glynis Johns), Best Featured Actress (Patricia Elliott), Best Book and Best Costumes (Florence Klotz). Bob Fosse won the Best Director Tony that year for Pippin. The Broadway run played 601 performances.

There has been talk of a Broadway revival of Night Music over the past several years, with Glenn Close's name bandied about for Desiree, but nothing has transpired.

The show is inspired by Ingmar's Bergman's ruminative film comedy, "Smiles of a Summer Night," in which three generations of people make fools of themselves over love at a country estate. Songs in the show's score include "Send in the Clowns," "A Weekend in the Country," "Now," "Soon," "Later," "The Miller's Son," "Perpetual Anticipation," "The Glamorous Life," "Remember," "It Would Have Been Wonderful," "You Must Meet My Wife," "Every Day a Little Death," "In Praise of Women," and more.

For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100 or (800) 755-4000. New York Stage Theater is at 63rd Street and Columbus Ave. in Manhattan.