Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I sure hope there are clowns!

I'm excited about the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, because, well, everybody else is excited about it!

No, seriously, while the enthusiasm of my fellow theatergoers plays a big part in my desire to see this revival, directed by Trevor Nunn, that's not the only reason.

I've seen several Sondheim musicals on stage. Two were in Boston - Sweeney Todd on tour at the Colonial Theater and Follies at the Lyric Stage. I saw Road Show at New York's Public Theater. (Not to mention West Side Story and Gypsy on Broadway.) Three others I've only seen on dvd - Company, Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George.

I like how Sondheim deals with weighty themes in a way that's entertaining but also makes you think: the injustice of the legal system in Sweeney Todd, the creative process in Sunday in the Park with George, what happens as we age in Follies, our ability to remake ourselves and our desire for riches in Road Show.

I know that A Little Night Music is based on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, which I haven't seen. And it has Sondheim's most well-known song, "Send in the Clowns," which for most of my life I didn't know was from a musical.

Other than that, I don't know too much about the plot and I've tried to stay a little in the dark. Usually, I know way too much about a show before I even set foot in the theatre. I think A Little Night Music takes place in the 19th century and there might be a love story involved, and Swedes, or at least Scandinavians.

When I think about Sondheim and relationships, what comes to mind are the bickering couples in Company. Could this a more romantic side? Plus, I'll finally hear "Send in the Clowns" in context, and I'm excited about that. Are there actual clowns? I'm not sure, but there ought to be.

Previews for A Little Night Music begin at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Nov. 24 and it opens on Dec. 13.

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