Sondheim’s A Little Night Music dazzles

Eddie Wolfson

Cap and Bells will put on a performance of Stephen Sondheim ’50s musical A Little Night Music. Tali Natter/The Williams Record

With musicals, you either love them or you hate them. In commemoration of alum Stephen Sondheim ’50’s 90th birthday, the College’s theater department has teamed up with Cap and Bells to present a musical this upcoming weekend that they hope everyone will love: A Little Night Music.

The collaboration is part of the College’s weeks-long commemoration of Sondheim’s artistic and musical accomplishments. A Little Night Music, which was first performed in 1973, spotlights Sondheim’s genius as composer and lyricist. This weekend’s production also continues Cap and Bells’ effort to put on more musicals, with memorable performances of Spring Awakening,  and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

What, you may wonder, is A Little Night Music about? It can be summed up in five words: sex, laughter, debauchery, drama and love. The show follows the ups and downs of several couples. Anne (played by Olivia DeMuth ’23) is married to Frederick (played by Young Wuk Jung ’21) but is reluctant to consummate the marriage, leaving Frederick with pent-up energy. Frederick’s son Henrick (played by Chris Van Liew ’23) is an angsty teenage cellist. Their maidservant Petra (played by Gigi Gamez ’22) is also considerably horny. Madame Armfeldt (played by Melia Hagino ’22) is a wise and appraising old woman, who watches over her granddaughter Fredrika (played by Dasha Belobokova ’23). Fredrika is left in Madame Armfeldt’s care because her mother, Desiree (played by Hallie Della-Volpe ’21) is a travelling actress, who is also Frederick’s ex-lover. At the start of the show, Desiree is the mistress of the pugnacious Count Carl-Magnus (played by Brandon Hilfer ’20) who is married to Charlotte (played by Kara Hadden ’22). Frid (played by John Murphy ’21) is Madame Armfeldt’s manservant who also has sexual urges. The story is commented on by a Greek chorus like quintet (comprising of Christopher Thomas ’21, Alex Quizon ’21, Hannah Gruendemann ’20, Carolyn Mielke ’23 and Olivia Graceffa ’22). And thus, the scene is set for an exciting, beautiful Sondheim masterpiece.

Even with such an amazing show and a supremely talented cast, you still need people to put the show together. Luckily, Emily Bannigan ’20, Jake Eisner ’21 and the rest of the production team have poured their energies into tying together department resources, an srong backstage team, a gifted cast and a talented pit orchestra of students to put on this musical. Bannigan is returning to Cap and Bells, with A Little Night Music being her third directorial pursuit with the theatre group. Her ability to encourage and direct actors to craft nuanced motivations and backgrounds from the text has brought the actors to their best. She has a clear vision for staging and aesthetics, helping guide the production team to create a purposeful and cohesive show. Eisner, musical aficionado, has undertaken the job of musical director, with skillful abilities to  teach music and conduct and direct the pit orchestra. His teaching ability has allowed him to bring the orchestra and actors together seamlessly, while his musical ability has allowed him to refine the stylistic choices in the music. Bannigan and Eisner also employed help of Assistant Director Raphael Rakosi-Schmidt ’23, Production Manager Maye McPhail ’22, Stage Manager Abigail Murray-Stark ’22 and the rest of the creative team. 

A Little Night Music is a theatre department and Cap and Bells collaboration, meaning the community will receive both the student-driven, work of Cap and Bells and the resources offered by the department. Also, like many Cap and Bells productions, A Little Night Music is a showcase for emerging talents. For example, lighting designers Tali Natter ’23 and Dylan Nadelman ’23 have learned how to fully light a show, using the AMT’s brand-new lighting technology. [Editor’s Note: Natter is a podcast editor of the Record.]

A Little Night Music will be put on Friday 7:30-9:30 p.m., Saturday 3:00-4:30 p.m., Sunday 3:00-4:30 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m.