REVIEW: A Little Night Music

Exam term blues are lifted with the ADC’s excellent adaptation of the classic musical.

A Little Night Music ADC Anne Engerman Cambridge cambridge life cambridge students Cambridge Theatre Desiree Armfeldt Frederick Engerman Madame Armfeldt Musical musical theatre sondheim stephen sondheim Theatre

Sondheim’s timeless musical follows an intricate story of three families that are thrust together by a series of marital affairs and comedic mishaps culminating in a ‘weekend in the country’ that fast turns farcical.

Mistresses are caught in bed with past lovers, unlikely couples elope and it all ends with a duel.

Fredrik (Tom Taplin) and Desiree (Ashleigh Weir) reminiscing. Image Credit: Johannes Hjorth

A Little Night Music is brought to life on the ADC stage by an extremely adept cast – the audience is engaged throughout thanks to excellent comedic timing and the sheer musical ability of the actors. They are brilliantly cast, with congratulations due for everyone involved.

In an already shining cast, there are a number of stand-out performances that deserve special praise. Tom Taplin as Fredrik Egerman is outstanding, keeping the audience in fits with ‘Now’ and establishing a perfect chemistry with Ashleigh Weir as Desiree Armfeldt in ‘You Must Meet My Wife’. Weir is wonderfully cast as the tempestuous Desiree as she proves in ‘Send in the Clowns’, her voice shaking with appropriate feeling. Calum Maney as Count Carl-Magnus and Holly Musgrave as Countess Charlotte are able to imbue their somewhat farcical characters with enough personality to keep the audience engaged – Musgrave especially strikes the perfect tone between being melancholy and macabre without ever becoming dull. It is a role that could easily have fallen flat, but in her hands, it is expertly acted to full comedic effect.

Anne (Heather Conder) comforts Henrik (Hugh Cutting). Image Credit: Johannes Hjorth

Lucia Azzi as Petra wowed the audience with ‘The Miller’s Son’ – Azzi has an incredible voice and is a worthy comic foil to both Heather Conder’s Anne and Hugh Cutting’s Henrik. Both Conder and Cutting are stronger singers than they are actors, but their performances are nonetheless affecting. Cutting is adept at conveying Henrik’s frustration while Conder makes a convincingly young and innocent Anne.

If one actor can be said to steal the show, it has to be Amber Reeves Piggott as Madame Armfeldt. The role is blessed with many hilarious one-liners, and Reeves Piggott delivers them perfectly.

Count Carl-Magnus (Calum Maney) and Countess Charlotte (Holly Musgrave). Image Credit: Johannes Hjorth

The staging throughout is well-crafted, and the chorus is able to move seamlessly to transition between stages while delivering hilarious interludes. The trees in the second act could have used more leaves, but beyond that, the show leaves little to be desired. There were, however, some problems with the microphones as can be expected on the opening night of a musical. These were kept to a minimum, and only rarely did microphones fail to come on for the first line of a song. The orchestra did justice to Sondheim’s beautiful music, with their live playing adding to the atmosphere.

Overall, this is a wonderful adaptation of Sondheim’s charming musical. It will leave you in fits – perfect for week three of exam term!

5/5 stars