Book by Hugh Wheeler
Music by Stephen Sondheim,
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
adapted from the film, Smiles Of A Summer Night, by Ingmar Bergman

INFO:

Opened at the Sam S. Schubert Theatre    Feb. 25, 1973    601 performances (Revived several times)
Original Director: Harold Prince
Original Choreographer: Patricia Birch
Original Producer: Harold Prince
Original Leads: Frederick: Len Cariou   Desiree: Glynis Johns   Madame Armfeldt: Hermoine Gingold
Cast Size: Male: 6    Female: 9    Ensemble: 3    Total Cast Size: 15-18
Orchestra: 18
Published Script: Applause
Production Rights: MTI (Music Theater International)
Recordings: Many. The original cast recording is terrific.
Film: A poor one starring Liz Taylor, directed by Prince. It does follow the show pretty closely, so you may want to see it. Don’t evaluate how effective a musical it is on stage from the film, though.
Other shows by the authors: Sondheim: West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday In The Park With George, Into The Woods, Passion, Assassins
Awards: 6 Tony Awards in the original production, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Leading Actress (Johns).

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

Night Music is as sophisticated a musical as exists. It is a show by adults, for adults. It is not “high energy,” though the intensity of the story-telling, the music and lyrics is high indeed. It is one of the few truly funny musicals that, at the same time, respects it’s audience and it’s self. It is one of the Prince/Sondheim “concept musicals,” built around an idea or a few ideas. One thing Sondheim wanted to do was write a score of waltzes and waltz variations, and so he did, probably his most delightful score. That score, though, is not an easy one to sing, to teach, or to play. Lyrics this adult, this clever, this demanding of the audience’s attention are extremely rare, and fantastically rewarding. This show represents Sondheim at his very best, in my opinion. And it’s a Sondheim that wants to entertain, a goal I’m not always convinced is uppermost in his thoughts. Entertain he does, at a rarefied level.

The book is very fun, very clever, funny, charming, and ultimately emotional. The book and music are wedded beautifully with the production values, when done right, to create a remarkable evening of theater for a mature audience.

This is a professional show for professionals who can handle it. Some Dinner Theater and Little Theater groups might give it a try, if they really have their act together. Some Universities could attempt it if they have the singers, the musicians, and the costume shop for it. A better fit overall would probably be stock companies, semi-pro, regional and professional houses. Some opera companies have presented productions of Night Music, as well, it is a pretty good fit, there, though the book and acting demands are extensive.

Be Warned:

This show requires adults playing adults. Those performers must almost every one of them have highly trained voices, as this show is borderline opera or operetta and everyone in it pretty much has to sing very well. The musical demands are significant and daunting.

The subject matter is also very adult. Frederick, our male lead, in his mid-late 40s, has married a much younger woman who refuses to sleep with him. He has a son who is hung up on his step-mother without being able to accept it. He had an affair long ago with a vivacious actress who had a daughter and mysteriously named her after Frederick. The maid dreams of sleeping with a man who can give her a better life. And ancient Madame Armfeldt has a song extolling the many trusts of her youth, and the wealth accrued from them. An adult show, indeed, and not for every audience or theater group.

It’s also an expensive show in some ways. You must stick to the period it represents, 1900 Sweden. The women must be gowned extravagantly. Though your size of your cast may be on the small side, your costume budget will not be. The sets may be simple as it is generally a unit set with furniture pieces indicating location, but it must also be aesthetically evocative. The original Broadway had screens that flew on and off, with bare trees represented on them, that isolated action and provided a feel for Sweden, cold though the sun never sets. It was a gorgeous and evocative set.

And as to orchestra, the ridiculously lush, dynamic, perfect orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick almost demand to be used in full, though it might be tried with reduced orchestration. MTI does not offer a reduced orchestration, and with this show, I think they are right.

In other words, in this case, sophistication, absolutely required to do this show, will require money.

THE STORY:

ACT ONE: A gorgeous waltz is heard, as a quintet, two men and three women, hum along with beautiful harmonies. (In the original production, a dance/mime was done during this “Night Waltz”. I think that this was actually confusing and vague, and should not be done.) Then, ancient Madame Armfeldt is wheeled on by her butler. She is accompanied by her 13 year-old granddaughter, Fredrika. Armfeldt plays solitaire and loses, and Fredrika suggests she should cheat. She is informed that solitaire is the one thing that requires honesty, and that cheating in relationships in fine. The girl is with her grandmother because her mother, Desiree, is an actress and performing somewhere. Madame asks the girl to watch the summer night, claiming it will smile three times at the follies of people. The first time, for the young, who know nothing. The second, for fools who know too little. The third time, for the old, who know too much.

The Egerman’s house. Henrik, as always, practices gloomy cello pieces and bemoans life as a whole. Anne, his young and attractive stepmother, suggests he play something less gloomy. Clearly Henrik, of age, has a crush on Anne. He wants to talk now, but she tells him, later. This sort of thing will continue through the scene. Fredrik, Henrik’s father, a lawyer, enters, followed by the fun-loving maid, Petra. He offers to take his wife to the theater, to see Desiree perform, as they prepare for bed. As he gets on night clothes, he wonder to himself if maybe “Now”, Anne will sleep with him, and plans elaborate attacks all doomed to fail. In her own mind, Anne promises that “Soon,” she will sleep with him. If only he weren’t, well, quite so old and dusty. And in Henrik’s mind, he wails that everything in his life is “Later”. The three solos build into glorious counterpoint, and the disharmony in this house is seen and heard.

Alone, practicing piano, Fredrika ponders about her mother, Desiree, and why does she need to act, why can’t she be an ordinary mother. But Desiree is busy leading “The Glamorous Life” of an actress, which is really sort of depressing, and can only write home regularly to her beloved daughter.

Anne and Fredrick arrive at Desiree’s show, and Anne pumps Fredrick for information about Desiree, almost as if she suspected he knew her. Around them, the wealthy speak of their many affairs and failed marriages, and “Remember”. Anne watches Desiree on stage, and suffering an attack of jealousy, runs off.

At home, the frustrated Henrik has tried to have sex with Petra, but it has not gone well. Anne and Fredrik are once again in their bedroom, and Anne wants to know how many women he had before marrying her. She recalls when she was a child and he’d visit, and he knew her as “Uncle Fredrik.” She lets him know she felt sorry for Fredrik, and so she married him. Fredrik excuses himself to go for a walk.

He walks all the way to Desiree’s apartment, directed by people at the theater. She recognized him in the crowd. It becomes clear that 14 years ago, they had a relationship. He sees a photo of Desirees young daughter, and wonders. He discovers that Desiree is currently involved with a Dragoon. Frederik tells her of his folly, his young wife. And though he tries to paint a positive face on it, the fact that his wife is still a virgin slips out and this infuriates Desiree. (“You Must Meet My Wife”) But he still dreams of Desiree, and she quite willingly offers to make his dreams come true tonight. (As she says, “what are friends for.” This should provide a feel for the show.)

Madame Armfeldt looks down upon the world of trusts and love affairs and with disgust, and longs for the old days when men gifted her with fantastic gifts for each of their “Liaisons” with her.

But Fredrik and Desiree are interrupted by her might Dragoon, who is supposed to be away on maneuvers. He enters, and Fredrik concocts a tale about being Desiree’s attorney, and bringing her papers to look over. And Fredrik is undressed because he slipped into Desiree’s hipbath. He dresses and departs as Carl-Magnus sings “In Praise Of Women”, and his feeble mind slowly arrives at the likely truth. And though he is having an affair, Magnus is married to Charlotte, his devoted wife who is all too aware of his roving ways, and though she longs to hold to him, she hates him for what he is doing to her.

At the Egerman’s, Petra combs out Anne’s hair, and Anne admits to being a virgin. They speak of poor, pathetic Henrik when Charlotte arrives at their door. The acerbic Charlotte shares with Anne a vision of her sad life with Carl-Magnus, and shares with her the fact that Carl-Magnus found Fredrik with Desiree, undressed. (“Every Day A Little Death”) Henrik enters as Charlotte leaves, having distressed Anne. Henrik is concerned for her, being enamored of her, and she longs for him to tell her that she’s desirable and warm, not an ice princess. (Which she most certainly is.)

Madame Armfeldt advises Fredrika to never wed or dally with a Scandinavian, as they are all insane. Desiree arrives to embrace her daughter happily. And Desiree wants her mother to invite a few people over for the weekend, which starts the big ending number to Act I, the magnificent “A Weekend In The Country”. Invited are Anne and Fredrick, Charlotte and Carl-Magnus. Desiree is going to use the weekend to maneuver things her way. Anne receives her invite and is horrified. She shows it to Fredrik, expecting him to be too in love with Anne to decline, but he readily accepts for the both of them. Charlotte mentions to Carl-Magnus that Fredrik is invited to Desirees, decides that a weekend in the country is exactly what he and Charlotte need, even though they have not been invited. And so, they all descend on Madame Armfeldt’s estate for what is sure to be some kind of disaster. (This is truly one of the great theatrical numbers of all time.)

ACT TWO: The quintet of singers again reminds us that we are in a land where “The Sun Won’t Set.” On the lawn of the Armfeldt estate, Carl-Magnus and Charlotte arrives unfashionably on time, Magnus driving that new invention, the automobile. Anne and Fredrik arrive in their car, Henrik and Petra in the back. Desiree is surprised at Magnus arrival, and his nonsense excuse that he was in the neighborhood visiting Charlotte’s cousin, but the poor girl got the plague, and they propose to hence stay the evening. They are all introduced, Charlotte and Anne hate Desiree instantly, but she remains cool.

But Charlotte has a plan she reveals to Anne. She, Charlotte, shall seduce Fredrik! Carl-Magnus, sure to be jealous, will drag them away, and Desiree will be left to peddle her passions elsewhere. Anne feels a tad sorry for dusty old Fredrik, and that’s about it. At the same time, Fredrika and Henrik talk. Fredrika, who has been raised in the theater, announces she is broad-minded, so Fredrik admits that, though he’s preparing to go into the Ministry, he’s in love with Anne.

Later that night, Fredrik and Carl-Magnus smoke cigars and dream that “It Would Have Been Wonderful” if Desiree were anything but the perfect and ravishing woman she is. Fredrika asks Carl-Magnus to meet with her mother, and leads him away…and Desiree quickly enters to speak with Fredrik. It is now that Fredrik discovers Desiree’s daughter is named Fredrika. She invites him up to her room later, at any time that suits him. He flees as Carl-Magnus enters again, and invites himself to Desiree’s hopefully very large bedroom, as well.

The quintet sing “Perpetual Anticipation” as the guests sit at a long table for dinner, and Fredrika performs at the piano. Fredrik speaks of cases won in court, Desiree pays close attention, Anne is pouty and bewildered, Charlotte invites Desiree to speak of her long-lost youth and makes her move on Fredrik, and Carl-Magnus starts to steam. He demands Charlotte return to their room. Henrik has enough of the in-fighting and in his high-strung manner, cries for them all to stop, running away.

Fredrika finds Henrik in the garden, thinking of suicide. Anne intrudes, and tells the child to be calm, Henrik is just having another problem with God. The wise Fredrika advises Anne that Henrik’s problems are with her, and she is suddenly thrilled and flattered.

In yet another part of the garden, Petra has had a fling with Frid, Madame Armfeldt’s butler. They watch as Anne tries to find Henrik.

In Desiree’s bedroom, Fredrik feels that they are back to where they were. He admits that Carl-Magnus is as stupid as Desiree described, but she’s in no mood. She feels that Henrik sees through them all, and admits that she invited Fredrik here to win him away from Anne. He admits that he has always loved Desiree, but when he’s seeks to avoid the truth of this, all he can see is his wife. They are fools, as Desiree points out in “Send In The Clowns”. He departs to return to his life.

Anne finally finds Henrik in the woods, and they proceed to admit how they feel and to make love. Petra stands, Frid is asleep. She watches Anne and Henrik, and dreams of someday perhaps bedding a Prince and enjoying a better life, but for now, admits she is willing to settle for “The Miller’s Son”.

Fredrik, seeing a woman alone on a bench, rushes to her, thinking it’s Anne. It’s Charlotte. They quietly watch as Anne and Henrik pass, on their way to running away together.

Carl-Magnus enters Desiree’s bedroom to do his duty, and she asks him to leave her alone. It’s over. He ignores her and is about to have his way when., looking out a window, he sees Charlotte with Fredrik. He steps quickly out and demands a duel, insisting Charlotte prepare to leave immediately thereafter. She is thrilled to have her tiger back, and complies. They play “Russian Roulette,” watched by Frid and Petra calmly from the trees. A shot is heard.

Desiree arrives and is furious with Charlotte for allowing this duel, and it appears that Fredrik is dead. Carl-Magnus informs her that the man is a terrible shot and merely grazed his ear. He and Charlotte depart, and Charlotte has (unfortunately for her, we suspect) won the day and her husband back.

Fredrik awakens in Desiree’s arms. Fate has decided things. He and Desiree and their daughter, Fredrika, will spend the rest of their days together. The night has smiled twice, and smiles a third time as Madame Armfeldt passes away.

THE SONGS:

Overture (which is sung), “Night Waltz”, “Now”, “Soon”, “Later”, “The Glamorous Life”, “Remember?”, “You Must Meet My Wife”, “Liaisons”, “In Praise Of Women”, “Every Day A Little Death”, “A Weekend In The Country”, “The Sun Won’t Set”, “It Would Have Been Wonderful;”, “Night Waltz II”, “Perpetual Anticipation”, “Send In The Clowns”, “The Miller’s Son”, “Finale”

Hits include “Send In The Clowns”

MY OPINIONS:

You may, as ever, ignore my opinions and rating.  But then, the music you hear later in the night may be sung by gleeful, evil critics (which is all critics, right?  No, just kidding, Mr. Critic…just a joke…)

What an absolutely delightful, beautiful experience almost the entire show is! While I do believe it slows down in a few places, overall this is easily one of the most stunning artistic pieces of entertainment ever devised. It is not like any other musical in its sophistication of dialogue, lyric, music and general design, and in its determination to be about adults and for adults.

I’ve seen numerous productions of A Little Night Music, and it always charms, always pleases…when done professionally. The show really needs its orchestra and great singers and beautiful design work to cast its spell entirely. It is an expensive show to do well, and an easy show to do badly.

MY RATING: ** (An excellent show, well worth considering)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:

It cannot be too stressed – the music is VERY difficult. The ranges for the singers are huge, operatic in nature. The orchestra must be fairly pro to pull this off at all.

Frederick – Baritone, clear, masculine voice but not overwhelming. Must be able to really get a quick lyric out with clarity and emotion, because “Now” is one of the hardest songs to sing ever, the lyrics keep coming like a tidal wave. Really requires a trained voice, a fine actor, and an understanding of musical theater.

Desiree – Less of a singer than an actress, a presence. An alto, usually played by a star with limited vocal equipment. She sings the one hit, “Send In The Clowns”, but it is not rangy, and it is probably more important that the acting happen than a beautiful vocal. Still, must carry a melody well.

Anne – Trained operatic lyric soprano with a perfect upper register and youthful yet womanly quality. Must have ringing, clear high notes.

Henrik – Trained operatic tenor with great, ringing high notes and a melodramatic quality even when singing. When I say big high notes, that’s what I mean.

Madame Armfeldt – Alto, elderly, songs can be talk-sung but must have a musical sensibility. The acting is more important than her singing.

Countess Charlotte Malcolm – Mezzo/Alto, her voice must be pure, clear, good pitch, but it’s more about lyrics and a cool sense of self-deprecation and irony doe her than vocalise.

Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm – Big, booming, trained, operatic military bass baritone.

Petra – Alto, character role for a young woman, must sing well, but again, more about the acting.

Fredrika – Does some singing, it should be loud, clear and sure of pitch.

The Quintet – Marvelous singer, operatic, trained, with a strong ability to harmonize and a knack for emotional expression and irony.

Frid – Non-singing.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:
There is movement in the show, but not much “dance”.  I’d cut the opening dance/mime, and I believe most productions do.  That leaves a few numbers that might benefit from some choreography, notably “The Glamorous Life”, “The Night Waltz”, “The Sun Won’t Set”, and “Perpetual Anticipation”, all of which need to focus on singing, so rather than dance, you’re talking about strategic movement and positioning of bodies to make a statement.  This would certainly be true for “A Weekend In The Country”, a massive musical set piece that needs physical movement, which must be painstakingly staged to climax when everyone is on at the end, in a way that makes the relationships clear.  There should be an inevitability at work in this number, an unavoidable collision of emotional forces.  Dance, no, not really in this show.

CASTING CONCERNS:

Frederick – In his 40s or 50s. Requires a very likeable, strong actor with a nice rueful sense of life and his own actions. Intelligent, educated, a lawyer, methodical to a fault, careful, conservative. He’s going to need a really fine theater voice, as well. Cast for age, a pleasant appearance, acting ability and voice all equally.

Desiree – A star, in her 40s or 50s. Charismatic, beautiful enough to explain why men fall for her. Stylish, cool, classy, theatrical, graceful, bright, dynamic. Also gifted with an ironic view of her own life and actions. Not the best mother in the world, but she’d like to be. She often acts as though she’s on stage and watched, playing out “dramatic scenes” even when she is not. A look and acting first, then voice.

Anne – Late teens-early 20s. Beautiful, desirable, Scandinavian, virginal. She is flighty, anxious, somewhat empty-headed, entirely self-involved, remarkably insensitive and inexperienced. She tries to play the sophisticated wife, but has no gift for it. She has little feeling for anyone else. Cast for singing and look first, then acting.

Henrik – Late teens–early 20s. Morose, serious, intense, overly emotional, depressed, frustrated, sexually going insane with desire, almost virginal. Cast for singing first, then acting. Must play cello, or at least look like he does.

Madame Armfeldt – A star-type role for an older actress with strong comic ability. Stylish, classic, well-bred, sophisticated, darkly amusing. She has a rare ability to look fate in the eye, and yet to remain politely detached from the dirty dealings of the world. Loves to provide gems of wisdom she knows no one will utilize of understand. Perhaps a bit of a mystic in her heart. Understands men, relationships, from vast experience. Should sing well enough, but cast for age, acting first, then voice.

Countess Charlotte Malcolm – Beautiful but just moving past her prime, in her 30s-40s. Very bright, intelligent, but gets lost in grief and emotion, and loses her head where her husband is concerned. Socially adept but not expert. Capable of desperation, and even severe depression. Cast for acting and a look first, then voice, but she must sing well.

Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm – Handsome, manly, tall, dangerous, muscular. In his 30s-40s. Very slow and not at all observant, it takes him a long time to figure things out, but when he finally does, he acts quickly and decisively. He is all about action. Women are for sex and a man’s pleasure, and they should stick by their man even as he has affairs, the ultimate purveyor of and believer in the double standard. (By the way, it might be fun to play him short, but with a terrible temper, instead of as a tall manly-man, as is usual. Just a thought. Though it may be harder then to explain why Charlotte or anyone wants him.)

Petra – Young, sexual, randy, a bit wild, direct, a working girl, attractive. Must sing her solo very well, with a great deal of commitment and fun.

Fredrika – Just old enough to be Fredrik and Desiree’s daughter, and they stopped dating 14 years ago. Bright, precocious, inquisitive, aware of others and their emotions and drives beyond her years. Not beyond manipulating adults as she sees fit, a bit of her mother in her.

The Quintet – Three women, two men, mature, Scandinavian, able to exchange partners and regroup believably and easily. Singing first, then the look. Should move gracefully, easily.

Frid – A butler, of Petra’s class, older than her, self-contained.

SETS:

They must be beautiful. The feel must be rich, lush, with saturated colors and warm furniture. We must feel as if we’re in a land where the sun won’t set, a strange place where an adult fairy-tale might happen. In the original production, groups of trees painted onto screen seemed to slide and glide and fly to create new areas to play in, and reveal action meant to be hidden, as if God Himself were revealing the show to us, and letting us know that nothing would be held back, we would view on this evening the entirety of mankind’s follies and pleasures. It worked very well.

You’ll need a grand, almost silly bed for Fredrik and Anne, and a bedroom for Desiree, perhaps as promising but in more subtle ways. Two cars (that’s right), though these could be avoided. Benches in the woods, grass to roll in as couples make love. But the trees should act to create a sort of unit set, revealing beds and benches but no walls, no doors or windows. The scene shifts too often for sets that are literal, and the musical should feel like a dream, a fairy tale, anyway.

A piano for Fredrika, in period or fronted to look like it is.

Your color palate will be important. We’re in Scandinavia. The light there is unique, which will determine the colors you will use, as well as your lighting designer’s choices. But this is theater, a Musical Comedy, with really funny songs and dialogue that need to be seen and heard. So even the moodiness of bare trees and cold skies must somehow be fun and inviting.

I cannot overemphasize the need for highly aesthetic design work for this show. The ornateness of the music, lyrics and finely wound book must be matched in the sets and how they move, seamless, silent, beautiful.

COSTUMES:

You should study art work, paintings from the period for Northern Europe, to get some idea of how ornate the clothing was at the time. The leads are generally “upper class”, and the audience needs to believe it when they see what they wear, including jewelry.

Fredrik is a lawyer. He’s a bit stuffy, conservative, thinks too much, and is afraid of happiness or he’d have returned to Desiree long ago. His clothes should be cut perfectly (and remember, he must breathe and sing), so he cuts a figure of a man just moving past his prime, and aware of it.

Carl-Magnus might have a sash indicating his military background. He is a man of action, and must have the clothes for such a man. Perhaps his shoulders are more padded than others, to beef up his muscular appearance.

Madame Armfeldt wears the trophies of a hundred trysts, and they shine and glitter.

Desiree is an actress, theatrical by nature, and her clothing should be a bit over the top, as well, for the period. She’ll need hats, gloves, scarves, fancy and lovely things that glitter and shine and flow in the wind.

Henrik should probably be dressed in ministerial black.

Anne’s dresses and trousseau should emphasize her youth and her virginity. She must be attractive, and sexy in a way that even she does not understand, so that Fredrik is driven mad by her. Clothing perhaps less puffed out, more form-fit, in accordance with the period and her class, of course.

Charlotte dresses with great care and attention to detail, in an attempt to retain her looks. Her clothes should emphasize her best qualities, de-emphasize her worst. No one is more careful with cut and color.

Petra is a working girl, dressed accordingly. Neat, work-a-day, easily and quickly-removed clothing.

The quintet are wealthy, of the same class as the leads, and watch the world from a distance with a sense of delight and yet, detachment. Perhaps there is something in their clothes that unite them as the pseudo-Greek Chorus they are. They are often portrayed as a bit overdressed and precious, and I’m not certain why,

Costumes will be expensive. Costume shops will help, but you mat well have to build a lot of the women’s gowns and such. Start putting all this together early, and coordinate closely with the Director and other designers for a look and color palate. If you’re building costumes, then get a crew. You’ll need some help.

PROPS:

Madame Armfeldt’s period-correct wheelchair, stylish and wooden. Henrik’s cello. Cards correct for the period for Mdm. Armfeldt to play solitaire. A table filled with food for dinner at the Armfeldt’s. A gun for Russian Roulette. Suitcases for Desiree as she lives “the glamorous life.” (By the way, she’d be more likely to be appearing in Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov than Shakespeare.) Books by Fredrik’s bedside, as he reads endlessly. Anne’s mirrors (several, I should think). Anne’s hairbrush. Anne’s make-up. A parasol perhaps for Charlotte, to ward off what little sun there may be and to protect skin she has great concern for. If they drive in their cars, then goggles and scarves, go for the whole image, the full laugh, and applause. This could be a busy job, and I’d start early, as the pieces needed are particular and may need to be built.

LIGHTING:

Must be flat-out beautiful as well as utilitarian. Must coordinate with the other design elements. Must reflect Scandinavian light, while remaining theatrically bright and useful. Locations quickly change in this show, and you will need to help direct the audience’s attention. But remember, the sun never sets, it is never quite night. You will need a fine designer for this!

Some numbers may call for spotlights, but I’d avoid them as much as possible as I think they are a bit too “musical comedy” for this show, too much, too on the nose. You’ll need a lot of lamps, and smart lights would be useful if they’re quiet enough. (You can move them, perhaps, during orchestral passages loud enough to mask their noise, if they have any.)

MAKE-UP:

Hair must be right for the period. I imagine you’ll be using wigs and falls galore, and may even need to build some. Your women must be made-up in accordance to their character, and not just in a workable theatrical manner. Anne should look young-ish, sexual but virginal, untouched. Charlotte should look like she takes great care to make-up in a way that retains vestiges of youth and desirability. Desiree is a master at make-up, theatrical and other, and should produce as beautiful an effect as she could and would. Petra should look hard-working, energetic, young, rosy-cheeked. Madame Armfeldt is near death, and she is aware of it. But she is too well-bred to hide the truth in pounds of make-up. So make her up to make it clear that she is dying, but with grace notes of rouge and lip-stick, because she has her pride.

Your men should be made-up unobtrusively.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):

Director, Music Director, Set Designer, Lighting Designer, Costume Designer, Fredrik, Desiree, Charlotte, Carl-Magnus, Madame Armfeldt, Henrik, Anne.

MY THOUGHTS:

Love this show, just love it. It’s a feast in an area of art that too often offers hot dogs and beer. Now, I like hot dogs, but not every day. Every now and then, the best, the most well-bred, the finest should be enjoyed and appreciated. That would be this show.

All of that said, I don’t think many companies can do this show justice. It is not easily scaled down, or made cheaper or simpler to do. You can’t turn a fine meal into tacos unless you cut it up as leftovers. This show is cigars and brandy, and that attitude should be central to its design and execution. I would consider using this show to open a new and distinguished theater or company, or to end a season on a highly artistic and rewarding note. This show costs money to put up, but it is loved and has a following. Really excellent theater performers with long resumes should kill to be in this production, which will help you sell tickets. It’s rare for Night Music to get produced, and what singing actor worth their salt and right for the show would not jump at the opportunity to appear in it.