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The A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC Revival Reviews Thread 
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Post The A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC Revival Reviews Thread
When the time comes for the press reviews, we can share them here and, of course, anyone can share their own views of the revival. For the time being, here's some buzz about the show in previews.

The Cast

:arrow: Catherine Zeta-Jones is on her way to a spectacular performance.
:arrow: Angela Lansbury is phenomenal.
:arrow: Leigh Ann Larkin is a great Petra and delivers a great "The Miller's Son".
:arrow: Ramona Mallory is a lovely Anne.
:arrow: Alexander Hanson and Aaron Lazar are good as Fredrik and Carl-Magnus.
:arrow: Erin Davie is not a great Charlotte.
:arrow: The Liebeslieder Singers lack personality and dynamics.

The Show Itself

There are clearly some pacing problems. Some say Act I has improved during previews, others disagree. Some say Act 2 still drags, others disagree. Whichever way it is, it's clearly not quite there yet. There has been a mixed reaction to some of Trevor Nunn's staging choices. For example, some really like the dinner scene as it is staged now - as a picnic. Others don't. Nobody seems enamored of the reduced orchestrations.


Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:42 am
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Post A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC Revival Reviews
Time for the reviews of A Little Night Music to start rolling in....

Raves

Scott Brown at New York Theatre wrote:
Trevor Nunn's stunning, twilit, devastatingly good new production... Lansbury, who capsizes the theater with every roll of those outsize eyes, hurls mots from her throne like thunderbolts - not a single line lands askew.... Zeta-Jones - a tremendous presence here, in great voice - mates up with Hanson perfectly: they play Desiree and Frederik as extremely magnetic, fabulously charming, utterly empty people.


Roma Torre at NY1 wrote:
Angela Lansbury's performance as Madame Armfeldt is magnificent. She nails her lines with the precision and killer timing that's likely to make her a contender for a sixth Tony Award. She also captures in Sondheim's music and Hugh Wheeler's book the overriding tone of the work -- a profound sense of longing, regret and sensuality. She is well-matched by Zeta-Jones, making a flawless Broadway debut with a performance that is also destined for a Tony nod. She tackles this difficult role with a natural gusto that in effect seduces the audience. She's warm, funny and captivatingly sensuous.... Trevor Nunn's direction cut right to the soul of this work meticulously casting great voices all equally adept as actors. The complex material is well served by all of them. Other standouts include Aaron Lazar as the blustery Count Malcolm, and Ramona Mallory, playing Egerman's much too young wife.


Positive

Erik Haagensen at Backstage wrote:
Nunn delivers... a persuasive and entertaining account of a great American musical.... The generally excellent company is led by three top-flight performances.... Zeta-Jones zeroes in on the fun Desiree and Fredrik had with each other during their affair. It makes for a unique and memorable creation, leading to a terrific "Send in the Clowns" notable not for its rue but for its self-laceration.... Hanson is every inch her equal.... Lansbury is.... more refined and less acerbic than the divine Hermione Gingold but no less authoritative and just as funny... and her final scene is deeply moving.... Nunn makes two missteps. His direction of Erin Davie.... (and) Hunter Ryan Herdlicka. David Farley's simple unit set of blond paneling and antique mirrors that accommodate projections serves Nunn's vision nicely, as do Farley's monochromatic but stylish costumes.


Elysa Gardner at USA Today wrote:
Madame Armfeldt has aged beyond the latter concerns but enjoys reflecting on her experience... and Lansbury, in an incandescent performance, lets us savor her haughty wit and see the fading but still defiant life force behind it.... Zeta-Jones brings great warmth and vitality to the role and makes it easier to see why Desiree's old lover, Fredrik — the male lead, played with suave brio by Alexander Hanson — would vie with a blustering dragoon for her affections. Zeta-Jones is less effective, though, at suggesting Desiree's weary, rueful edges.... This might owe something to Nunn's direction, as other performances here flirt with overzealousness.


Thom Geier at Entertainment Weekly wrote:
Zeta-Jones' Hollywood glam buttresses the role's necessary off-puttingness. And the actress pulls off the challenge, comfortably commanding the stage.... Her second-act rendition of ''Send in the Clowns'' is an emotional tour de force not to be missed. Likewise, Angela Lansbury offers a master class in character acting as Desiree's ancient mother, Madame Armfeldt, wringing out every poignant beat and punchline.... The energy tends to flag a bit whenever they're not on stage.


David Finkle at Theatremania wrote:
In Trevor Nunn's mostly effective Broadway revival.... (Catherine Zeta-Jones) does well by the play's pathos and wit.... The reemergence of the tuner as a chamber musical... is a smart notion, well realized. Farley's single-set unit... is sufficient, if perhaps a trifle colorless. Lansbury provides a depiction of a woman elegantly withdrawing from life that is a master class in characterization. So is her tragciomic rendition of the brilliant solo "Liaisons." Indeed, no one should be surprised if the five-time Tony winner carries off that sixth spinning medallion next year.


Michael Sommers at New Jersey News Room wrote:
Catherine Zeta-Jones makes a smashing Broadway debut.... Staged more as a rueful comedy with music, this show unfolds quietly against a flexible setting of duskily mirrored panels that later opens to disclose a modest view of birch trees.... Zeta-Jones is handsomely partnered by Hanson.... Not everyone will enjoy the deliberate moodiness of this revival.


Mixed

Robert Gannon at Hollywood Reporter wrote:
This uneven but welcome revival of Sondheim's classic musical features a triumphant Broadway debut by Catherine Zeta-Jones.... Nunn's minimalist approach contrasts sharply with Prince's original opulent staging, with mixed results. There will be many who bemoan the visually drab sets... and monochromatic costumes.... On the other hand, this intimate version does a wonderful job of accentuating the emotional complexities and endlessly witty dialogue of Hugh Wheeler's book... Lansbury uses her well-honed theatrical instincts to perfect effect as Madame Armfeldt, generating huge laughs with her expert delivery of the character's piercing comic barbs.


David Rooney at Variety wrote:
Trevor Nunn brings a blunt, heavy hand where a glissando touch is required, but the wit and sophistication of the material are sufficient to withstand even this phlegmatic staging.... Bewitching, confident and utterly natural, [Catherine Zeta-Jones] breathes a refreshing earthiness and warm-blooded sensuality into [Desiree].... But the production's real jewel is Angela Lansbury as her worldly mother.... Hanson's warm playfulness with Zeta-Jones gives real body to the central relationship.... What's remarkable, given its unsatisfying elements, is that this Night Music still seduces.... The choice to refocus the show into a chamber piece was a smart one. But a director with a more intuitive feel for intimacy and subtlety would have made more sense.


Ben Brantley at The New York Times wrote:
An elegiac darkness infuses this production.... Mr. Wheeler’s book has always had a coarse side at odds with the intricacy and delicacy of Mr. Sondheim’s score.... Ms. Zeta-Jones brings a decent voice, a supple dancer’s body and a vulpine self-possession to her first appearance on Broadway.... Her Desirée, to be honest, is much like her Velma: earthy, eager and a tad vulgar, though without the homicidal rage and jealousy.... Such traits lend a not always appropriate edge of desperation to the droll Desirée.... Leigh Ann Larkin, as the earthy maid Petra, oversells the 11 o’clock number "The Miller’s Son," a hymn to sex as a life force, with autoerotic gestures that suggest an audition for a pole-dancing position.... But there is only one moment in this production when all its elements cohere perfectly. That moment, halfway through the first act, belongs to Ms. Lansbury....


Matthew Murray at Talkin' Broadway wrote:
Catherine Zeta-Jones, as the famed actress Desirée Armfeldt, and Angela Lansbury, as Desirée’s mother, instinctively understand and project what Nunn and most of the rest of his cast do not: This show is not a turgid, angry tragedy, but a saucy lark that’s all about celebrating, as someone sensibly sings, "everything passing by".... If Zeta-Jones makes [Desiree] seem younger and cagier than the norm, she’s also quicker to hurt... "Send in the Clowns," is darker and smokier than most renditions, but retains its power because it signals the heretofore ageless Desirée’s final, unwanted, and potentially disastrous descent into middle age.... Hanson, who originated Fredrik in this production in London, is so stodgy and unappealing.... Herdlicka is consistently whiny hissy-fitty.... Mallory is shrill on her lines.... Lazar and Davie should be in the show’s most unbreakable roles, but derive only a fraction of the characters’ laughs and musical pleasures.... One suspects that Nunn is downplaying the show’s musical values in order to amplify its intimacy... But contemplation of this molasses-in-Siberia sort goes against the very spirit of A Little Night Music


Negative

John Simon at Bloomberg wrote:
The show is based on one of Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces... but the libretto that Hugh Wheeler adapted from it is little more than hack work. There is, though, Sondheim’s great score to balance things out.... Lansbury is commanding as always, making Madame’s words, spoken and sung, resonate with multiple meanings. Epigrammatic crispness comes across not in the least recherche, as the wisdom of age seamlessly blends with ageless nostalgia. Zeta-Jones, on the other hand, is all artifice.... Words are delivered in a stilted rubato, oozing self-satisfaction, with affected facial expressions that are smug and patronizing.... What the set lacks, Nunn tries to make up for with business. Not so much stage movement as general heartiness, frolicsomeness, primping and posturing, inordinate onstage laughter and whatever it takes to goose elegant comedy into rude farce.


Michael Kuchwara at Associated Press wrote:
There are some lovely moments, most of them supplied by Angela Lansbury, but too much of this adult, sophisticated show... seems forced, boisterous and a little crude.... As Desiree's mother, the luminous Lansbury is a wonder. She is just about perfect as the worldly wise Madame Armfeldt, a woman who has tasted all that life has to offer and still enjoys the remembrances - and cynicism - that goes with it. The 84-year-old actress does something extraordinary, too: her Madame Armfeldt progressively gets more frail as the evening progresses, subtly commenting on one of the musical's more profound themes - the mortality of all, no matter what their station in life. The aging process has never been more eloquently put on display.... One of the joys in A Little Night Music always has been a quintet of singers who serve as a kind of melodic Greek chorus to the action. Dressed in black, they swirl elegantly across the shallow Kerr stage, adding a welcome sense of movement to a story that doesn't require much choreography. Unfortunately, that sense of style is only fitfully present in this disappointing revival of A Little Night Music.


As expected, an ambiguous set of responses to the production. And even in the negative reviews, Angela Lansbury is singled out as being uniformly excellent. I'm pleased about that.

Later days
David

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Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:06 pm
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Joe Dziemianowicz at NY Daily News wrote:
Catherine Zeta-Jones' name over the title and on the marquee at the Walter Kerr Theatre helps goose ticket sales for "A Little Night Music."

But her glamorous presence can't cover the shortfalls in Trevor Nunn's dim and downsized production from London's Menier Chocolate Factory. It doesn't do justice to Stephen Sondheim's most elegant musical.


Though the show is mostly well sung, the small orchestra sounds thin. The scenery recalls department store windows - nothing romantic in that. Sluggish pacing makes it feel like "A Lotta Night Music" and performances are too modern for a tale of romantic entanglements in late-19th century Scandinavia.

Zeta-Jones, a London theater vet and an Oscar winner for "Chicago," knows her way around a stage and a musical. She looks ravishing, and although she's very emphatic in the show's famous number, "Send in the Clowns," she's got a pretty voice that serves her and the show well.

But there's nothing world-weary about her Desiree to indicate she's ready to settle down. She appears at the height of her powers, which isn't exactly what the part calls for. Also odd is Zeta-Jones' skittering accent, which wanders from Wales to mid-America to the Deep South.

Hanson reprises the role of Frederik, which he played in London. He's easy on the ears and the eyes. With his George Clooney-ish good looks, though, it's hard to believe that Frederik would be short on options when it comes to women.

Fresh from "Blithe Spirit" and a Tony win, Angela Lansbury plays Desiree's tart-tongued mother and gets some of the sharpest lines in Hugh Wheeler's wry book. The 84-year-old star understands that a dry delivery is what's needed for "Night Music" to sing. Because of that, all her lines and the sly tune "Liaisons" are the high points that bring smiles to a wintry night.


Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:35 pm
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I just wrote this in the social club forum about my trip to NY:

I did end up seeing ALNM... and it was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!
The Walter Kerr theater is small ( I read online it usually doesn't host musicals) so even though I was in the second to last row in orchestra, I estimate I was only 50-60 feet from the stage. Great view.

Funny that you didn't like Anne, Shaka. I have never seen the show or even listened to a CR so I didn't know what to expect. Her accent bothered me at first, but then the overall character grew on me and I really enjoyed her. I know Elanie Stritch is a legend and all, and her comedic timing was great, but overall, and espcially during "Liaisons", I was just waiting for the story to move on. I enjoyed all oher characters more than hers.
Bernadette was nice to see, although I suspect she was mostly playing herself, and not Desiree. So much of what she did was just "big" and "loud" and didn't really seem like a character or acting. Her "Send in the Clowns" though was.... beautiful. And The banter and character in "You Must Meet My Wife" was hilarious.

I found that the actor I most enojyed was Alexander Hanson as Fredrik. It never seemed as though he was an actor in a part, it was always very real. Very, very enjoyable.

I'm so glad I got to see it!!

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Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:06 am
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Brigantine wrote:
I did end up seeing ALNM last night...and it was FANTASTIC!


What a night! The best birthday gift ever, I'd say!

Beware...this is a long post!

First off, I had no idea that Henrik was such a melodramatic character. It got to be hilarious after a while...every time he sang, the lights went out, there was this blue spotlight on him, and the music became really somber...he and mood-swing-Anne deserved each other.

Secondly, Elaine Stritch is crazy, though in the best possible way. When the audience laughed after the "raisins...Liasins" lyric, she actually said, "No, wait, let me sing." #-o

Thirdly, I had the best stagedoor experience of my life.

The first to come out was Alexander Hanson, who was a brilliant Fredrik. He was very grateful and signed everyone's Playbills. Handsome as hell, too.

Next was the girl who played Fredrika. She was sweet and timid, and is only 13 years old. She also signed Playbills.

Then, to my shock, Elaine Stritch came out. She didn't sign anything, but she enthusiastically greeted the crowd before leaving. Some people got good candid photos of her as she walked past.

Next was the actor who played Henrik, who was stalled by a friend of his who apparently needed directions. At least, that's what he told us before happily signing our Playbills.

By this time, the crowd had been standing outside for almost 25 minutes. The excitement and anxiety were growing with every second. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a scream, and someone cried, "There she is!" And lo and behold, I saw the mop of curly red hair! My friend and I were stunned and could barely contain ourselves. Bernadette Peters signed my Playbill, compliments lobbing at her from every angle. She was very gracious and thanked us a few times. One woman had her sign her VHS of Cinderella, while a man asked her to sign his shirt, since he didn't have anything else. She did! :mrgreen:

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Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:04 am
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