Yesterday afternoon Barbara and I went to see A Little Night Music at the Huntington Theatre. Go see it!
Although I consider myself something of a fan of Stephen Sondheim, I had never seen this particular musical before, either on stage or on film. Of course I knew its most famous song very well — the great “Send in the Clowns” — but I hadn’t known its context. Seeing it in context makes it 314% better, giving it a deep meaning that it can’t have all by itself.
My ignorance of the entire musical was enhanced (exacerbated?) by my unfamiliarity with the Ingmar Bergman film “Smiles of a Summer Night,’ on which it was based. All right, it’s now on my Netflix queue…so we’ll see. You can look it up in Wikipedia if you wish, so there’s no need for me to summarize the plot or the characters. But I do want to add a few observations. First, there’s a remarkably large number of truly witty lines, zingers that make you think “I wish I’d said that!” Second, most of the cast members were excellent actors and singers, not only the leads but also some of the more minor characters. Third, as is usual in Huntington productions, the set and costumes were very impressive — important in something that takes place in Sweden over a hundred years ago. There are many echoes of Ibsen, perhaps not surprisingly, even a reference to the female lead going off to play Hedda Gabler in…get this…Elsinore. Fourth, the totality of the music is an amazingly coherent work, more like an opera than a musical and more like a single long composition than a collection of songs.
As I said, go see it!