Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Wasn't It Rich?

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Wasn't It Rich?

Article excerpt

Tony nominees headlined a memorable Night Music in Oklahoma City

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music proved to be a highlight of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma's 2014 summer season (Aug. 5-9). Artistic Director Michael Baron staged a taut, bracing production mercifully free of fauxoperetta affectation and facile sentimentality, a rewarding interpretation realized by a strong ensemble and by music director David Andrews Rogers. This approach relied first and foremost on the show's words, both dialogue and lyrics. The entire cast, along with Baron, Rogers and sound designer TobyAlgya, deserved accolades for the outstanding diction heard throughout the evening.

Baron's ensemble featured standout performances by three noteworthy Broadway veterans: George Dvorsky as Fredrik Egerman and Tony nominees Dee Hoty and Emily Skinner as Desirée Armfeldt and Countess Charlotte Malcolm, respectively. Dvorsky's robust, engaging Fredrik left no doubt as to why Desirée had loved him in their shared past or why she would now devise an elaborate stratagem to reunite them so many years later. His rock-solid baritone was a pleasure to hear, and his attention to the lyrics repeatedly brought out the telling verbal details with which Sondheim paints Fredrik's mid-life uncertainties and quandaries.

Fans of three-time Tony nominee Hoty's outstanding Phyllis in the Paper Mill Playhouse's Follies and its complete recording would not have been disappointed with her assumption of this leading role. She created a forthright, even blunt Desirée, a hardworking trouper with no airs and few illusions, yet still hoping to seize an unexpected chance for happiness. Her wry "Send in the Clowns" mixed disappointment with irony at her own expense, but no self-pity.

Skinner defined the phrase "luxury casting" as Charlotte. She made a dramatic meal of the countess's stifled sensuality, her desperation at her husband's casual cruelties and, most movingly, her relentless, unforgiving self-awareness. Skinner was especially fine in Charlotte's first-act visit to Anne Egerman, including an emotionally complex "Every Day a Little Death" with Maggie Spicer, and in her Act II confession to Fredrik of her duplicity.

Lyric Theatre doyenne Charlotte Franklin celebrated 44 years as a member of the company with her well-etched Madame Armfeldt, a woman little inclined, nor immune, to old age's doubts and regrets, and still eager to relish the night's smiles. Franklin made the most of "Liaisons" and the account of her youthful suitor with the wooden ring, and she delivered her withering ripostes with expert comic timing. …

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