Inspired by Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music opened at the Shubert Theatre Feb. 25, 1973, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler. Harold Prince directed a cast that included Glynis Johns as Desiree Armfeldt, Len Cariou as Frederik Egerman and Hermione Gingold as Madame Armfeldt.
In his New York Times review, Clive Barnes called the musical "heady, civilized, sophisticated and enchanting" and praised Sondheim's "breathtaking" lyrics. "A Little Night Music," he wrote, "is soft on the ears, easy on the eyes, and pleasant on the mind."
The show went on to win a slew of awards, including Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. Johns was awarded the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Desiree, and featured actress Patricia Elliott was also honored for her work.
During its run the production transferred to the Majestic Theatre, where it closed Aug. 3, 1974, after 601 performances and 12 previews. The musical was revived on Broadway in 2009 with Catherine Zeta-Jones in her Broadway debut as Desiree Armfeldt and Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt. After a short hiatus in summer 2010, the production reopened with new stars Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch.