By Tehreem Sajjad, For the Daily
Published November 21, 2012
This holiday season, Performance Network Theatre celebrates its 31st anniversary with heaps of love, lies and liaisons in the form Stephen Sondheim’s musical, “A Little Night Music,” which is a rollicking production of all three with a twist of comedy.
A Little Night Music
Through Dec. 30 at various times
Performance Network Theatre
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As a renowned American composer and lyricist, Sondheim is known for bringing a contemporary New York setting to the stage, but his take on “A Little Night Music” will take Ann Arbor audiences to Scandinavia.
The winner of six Tony awards and a Grammy, “A Little Night Music” is set in Sweden in the early 1900s and follows a series of love triangles. When Fredrik Egerman, a successful lawyer, takes his trophy wife, Anne, to a play one weekend, he unexpectedly meets his ex-lover, Desiree Armfeldt, an alluring Swedish actress. While the love between the two is rekindled, Fredrik’s son, Henrik, falls in love with his stepmother, further complicating the situation. This chain of events drives this collection of characters into a weekend of harmony and discord.
“We have a brilliant cast,” said Naz Edwards, a PNT associate artist who will play Desiree Armfeldt. “It’s amazing to see the talent that we have here — all from Detroit, Michigan. I think that you will see it — I’ve never seen such a strong vocal group of people in a show here ever. So, I’m very, very impressed with and grateful for who I’m working with.”
Opening its first act with the song, “Remember?,” “A Little Night Music” is a triptych of songs that are first sung independently and subsequently braided together both musically and thematically. As the lyrics begin to overlap, so do the characters.
“The songs are a heavy extension of the dialogue,” Edwards said. “I think Sondheim has incredible lyrics and music, with a very definite tone, very — you know — it’s not the basic musical theater music. It’s lyrics that are smart because they are just words that people speak. It’s like one leading into the other — really beautiful, stunning music.”
Some of the other songs that will be featured in the show include “Send in the Clowns” and “The Glamorous Life.”
With Broadway music and a cast that includes Tony, Grammy, Olivier and Drama Desk award winners and Pulitzer-Prize winning authors, PNT hopes to provide Ann Arbor audiences with an experience that speaks to a wide range of audiences through its production of “A Little Night Music.”
“Oh, I think it’s a classical for everybody. I think its sophistication is itself comprehendible for all ages and it’s just fun for everybody,” Edwards said. "It crosses over, too, I would say, to people who like Opera — light Opera, because there’s a lot of sophisticated vocal sounds in the music like there are in the pop music of today.”
She added: “(Sondheim’s) lyrics are brilliant, the music is great. There’s nothing like it. It’s a very different journey when you go see a piece of his. For me, it makes me think so much and feel so much as a performer. It’s not fluffy and light. It’s just so incredible. It’s very deep, and thoughtful and real — very real.”
Correction Appended: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that it is PNT's 30th anniversary.