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A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim

Until recently I had never seen Stephen Sondheim's musical "A Little Night Music", and was unaware of what a treat I had been missing.

I was lucky enough to see this production at the Garrick Theatre, London. "Sublime" is an over-worked word, but it certainly applies in this case. Directed by Tevor Nunn, its wonderful cast included Maureen Lipman on deliciously top form as Madame Armfeldt, Hannah Waddingham as Desirée Armfeldt, Alexander Hanson as Fredrik Egerman and Kaisa Hammarlund as the saucy, free-spirited Petra.

"A Little Night Music" is probably best known for the song "Send In The Clowns". Sung by Desirée to (and with) Fredrik, it is even more stunning in the context of the play, and Hannah Waddingham's performance of it is one that I shall always remember. The other songs don't make sense unless seen in the play's context, but include some that are equally brilliant.

"A Little Night Music" is based on Ingmar Bergman's movie "Smiles Of A Summer Night", which was itself inspired in part by Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

From this review of the movie:

"The summer night has three smiles," one character says to his lover. The first comes "between midnight and dawn, when young lovers open their hearts and loins." The second smile is for "the jesters, the fools and the incorrigible." And the third smile is for "the sad and dejected, for the sleepless and lost souls, for the frightened and the lonely."

Ingmar Bergman's movie is available on DVD, but there is currently no decent movie version of Stephen Sondheim's musical (I am told that the one starring Elizabeth Taylor is not recommended). If you haven't seen the musical on stage and get a chance to, don't miss it... and if you are in reach of London, there is a very rare treat waiting for you!

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