A Little Night Music at Circle Theatre | Theater review
Circle’s Sondheim revival hits some right notes, but too many of director Bob Knuth’s choices remain flat.
Inspired by Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night, Sondheim and Wheeler’s 1973 work is a melancholy meditation on romantic longing and regret set against the endless sunset of summer in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Aging actress Desirée Armfeldt (Anita Hoffman) reacquaints herself with old flame Frederik Egerman (Kirk Swenk), who’s newly and frustratedly married to virginal 18-year-old Anne (Stephanie Stockstill), over whom Frederik’s son Henrik (Patrick Tierney) pines; meanwhile, the jealousy shown by Desirée’s current paramour, the oafish Count Carl-Magnus (Jeremy Rill), looks to his long-suffering wife, Charlotte (Deanna Boyd), like an opening to win back her husband’s affections. These interlocking triangles are remixed and rematched over the course of a magical evening at the estate of Desirée’s aged mother (Patti Roeder).
Knuth’s middling production features appealing supporting performances by Tierney, Rill, Boyd and Khaki Pixley (who brings a bit too much modern sass to the Egermans’ maid, Petra, but delivers a lovely “Miller’s Son”). The rich harmonies of the Lieberslieder singers almost make up for the tinny sound of the dinky, synthetic four-piece orchestra doing injustice to Sondheim’s waltz-heavy score. But Knuth’s all-white, oddly static set design makes a poor canvas for Gary C. Echelmeyer’s distractingly peculiar lights, and Hoffman and Swenk are woefully miscast in the show’s leads.