A LITTLE NIGHT MUSICMusic & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed by – Neale Whitmore
Music Director – Vahn Phollurxa
Choreographer – Emily Leekha
Set Design – Rodney Dobbs
Costume Design – Dallas Costume Shoppe
Lighting Design – Lisa Miller
Sound Design – Daniel Bergeron
Props Design – Sarah Nobles-Key
Stage Manager – Kate Dedman Radke
Karen Raehpour – Desiree Armfeldt
Barbara Catrett – Madame Armfeldt
Sara Massoudi – Fredrika
John Wenzel – Fredrik Egerman
Rae Hillman* – Anne Egerman
Eric Feldman – Henrik Egerman
Robin Clayton – Petra
M. Shane Hurst – Count Carl-Magnus
Andi Allen – Countess Charlotte
Gabriel Ethridge – Mr. Lindquist
Camille Skye – Mrs. Nordstrom
Rachel Davies – Mrs. Anderssen
Aaron Gallagher – Mr. Erlanson
Gabie Hacson – Mrs. Segstrom
Dillon Hanson* – Frid
Vahn Phollurxa – Keyboard/Conductor
Christian Gonzales – Reed I
Michael Dill – Reed I
Kristen Thompson – Reed I
Eduardo Rios – Violin
Miguel Cantu – Violin/Viola
Eric Smith – Cello
Reviewed Performance: 7/28/2019
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The highlight of the show is, in my opinion, the quintet of Gabriel Ethridge, Camille Skye, Rachel Davies, Aaron Gallagher, and Gabie Hocson as the “Liebeslieder Singers” who act somewhat as a Greek chorus for the all of the proceedings. Their tight harmonies are not only swoon-worthy, their songs also help set the stage and advance the plot. They were truly lovely to listen to.
Another highlight was Robin Clayton as the Egerman’s maid Petra. Ms. Clayton has amazing stage presence and played the seemingly carefree young maid with a knowing sexiness that belied her age. Petra was clearly in her prime, and her stolen moments with Frid (nicely played by Dillon Hanson) displayed a woman in control of her own destiny...as long as it involved getting what she wanted from a man. Her solo at the end of Act II, “The Miller’s Son” was a showstopper. Absolutely stunning.
Karen Raehpour and John Wenzel made a charming couple that was destined to be together. I was rooting for them from the beginning because they were just so well suited, both physically and vocally. Ms. Raehpour’s charisma was immediately evident when she hit the stage, and she maintained it throughout - even when she thought she was being rejected. Her rendition of “Send in the Clowns” was heart-breaking. Mr. Wenzel created in Fredrik a guy most of us love to hate because he seems to have it all and knows it, so his reaction when Anne left him was rather satisfying. At that point, I almost wished Ms. Raehpour’s Desiree would reject him, too, just for spite.
As Anne, the 18-year-old virgin wife of Fredrik, Rae Hillman was a dichotomy. When she sang, I was transported by her lilting soprano and facial expressions, but her vocal fry speaking voice took me completely out of her character and, indeed, out of the period because it was so incongruous. Surely there was a way to display the neuroses of the character without making the audience want to tear their ears off. That said, Ms. Hillman looked and sang the role perfectly and her smile was enchanting in the dance numbers.
Eric Feldman played 19-year-old seminary student Henrik with just the right amount of nervous energy and disgust at the worldliness around him. His infatuation with Anne was sweet and just the right amount of “moony” without being obnoxious. His strong tenor voice added to the character.
Barbara Catrett and Sara Massoudi were perfectly matched as Madame Armfeldt, Desiree’s mother and Fredrika, her daughter. Ms. Catrett was regal and wise in her portrayal of the former courtesan, contrasting nicely with the exuberant innocence of Ms. Massoudi’s character. These women had some sweet moments together, making their relationship completely believable.
Andi Allen and M. Shane Hurst played the most unhappy couple of the show: Countess Charlotte and Count Carl-Magnus. Mr. Hurst was almost TOO pompous in his role, making me wonder what Desiree (and Charlotte, for that matter) could possibly have seen in him. Ms. Allen portrayed his overly dutiful, long-suffering wife with a touch of humor that didn’t quite work, as the sadness of her situation seemed to warrant a more somber approach. However, like Desiree and Fredrik, their portrayals resulted in a well-suited couple whom the audience would hope might have a new beginning via the evening’s events. The duet “It Would Have Been Wonderful,” sung by Mr. Hurst and Mr. Wenzel was lovely.
As a matter of fact, all of the music was lovely, from the small orchestra to the vocals. Musical director and conductor/keyboardist Vahn Phollurxa should be commended. It really is refreshing to listen to legitimate singing onstage instead of the pop belting so popular in more modern musicals. Kudos!
While there wasn’t a lot of choreography in the show, what was there was superb. Emily Leekha utilized the waltz in the mostly open room flawlessly, and Rodney Dobbs’ simple yet elegant set was perfect for the space. I must also mention the backstage crew and quintet, who brought most of the set pieces on and off seamlessly and quietly.
Dallas Costume Shoppe provided the gorgeous costumes for the show, which worked better for the women than the men. Ms. Allen’s dresses as Countess Charlotte were probably my favorite, as they were utterly striking on her. Some of the men’s coats and vests didn’t quite match up correctly, but the overall look was there for the majority of the characters. Sarah Nobles-Key’s props worked well for the period, Lisa Miller’s lighting design was effective and helped create the proper moods, and Daniel Bergeron’s sound design was nicely balanced. I’m always happy when I don’t notice any microphone issues (as I am still opposed to mics onstage in small spaces...but I know I’m in the minority).
As director of the show, Neale Whitmore has brought all of these elements together perfectly in A Little Night Music, creating a truly stunning piece of classic musical theatre at Theatre Frisco. This is actually the first time I’ve had the privilege of seeing this show live. My friend who accompanied me told me it is her favorite musical, and she absolutely loved it. So did I! As A Little Night Music isn’t produced that often, I highly recommend getting your tickets now, before they sell out.
Frisco Discovery Center Black Box Theater, 8004 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 200
Frisco, TX 75034
Runs through August 11.
Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturday at 2:30 and 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm
Tickets are $15-25.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.theatrefrisco.com or call the box office at 972-370-2266.