Tue. Jan 31st, 2023

“ ’Ship Within the Clowns’ is the preferred tune Sondheim ever wrote.”

So mentioned critic Steve Cohen in 2014.

And he could also be proper.

However there are such a lot of dimensions to “A Little Evening Music” to admire that you’ll depart SLOC’s third staging of the musical (after 1978 and 1994) instructed, amused, touched, and admiring.

First, the present itself, 50 this yr. Due to the intelligent music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and a guide by Wheeler, we’re shocked at each flip.

Tunes teeter on the sting of sprechgesang. Repartee jabs. The heartbeat of most songs is three-quarter time, fin de siècle waltzes that wrestle to suit robes and galluses, anticipating their very own dismemberment in Ravel’s “La Valse.” Instances change.

The plot springs from Ingmar Bergman’s “Smiles of a Summer time Evening,” and Swedish nights are lengthy. Three ironic smiles: on the younger, the silly, and the previous. Life winks repeatedly, and on this story the upper-crusts get their romantic comeuppance.

Watch out what you want for is one other technique to put it. Ask aged courtesan Madame Armfeldt (Pat Brady). Life turns into a hazy reminiscence anyway, as she recounts from her wheelchair throne in “Liaisons.”

The younger: her granddaughter, Frederika (Emma O’Kane); her manservant, Frid (Daniel Burns); 20-year-old Henrik Egerman (Michael Burns) and his 18-year-old stepmother, Anne (Ellya Winchester); and Petra (Jalissa Watson), Anne’s servant. All prospects lie earlier than them.

However fewer choices for the silly, the middle-aged: Desiree Armfeldt (Lindsey Dodd); her former lover, Fredrik Egerman (Shawn Olander-Hahn); her present amour, Carl-Magnus Malcolm (James W. Alexander); and Malcolm’s spouse, Charlotte (Elizabeth Corey). They cry, “Ou sont les neiges d’antan?”

Time has handed, however want stays.

Sondheim and Wheeler brilliantly spin these characters by conditions each humorous and unhappy, arriving at a satisfying denouement.

SLOC’s mounting of this Tony winner is fantastically paced by director Brian Clemente, music director Robert Soricelli, and stage supervisor J.J. Paul. A pleasant singing and dancing quintet (Stephanie Saint Germain, Benjamin Hitrick, Brian Clemente, Christine Meglino, Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack) weaves out and in of the motion, commenting like a Greek refrain. Choreography by Amy Clark & Haley Van Alstyne captures the class and the confusion. The set modifications are effectively performed.

The manufacturing, by Ashley & Spencer Lee, seems good. Interval costumes and hairstyles by, respectively, Cheryl Zatt and Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack, work. Clemente’s scenic design has imaginative touches. If I want the mattress had been extra secure than it was on opening night time and the lighting had been fine-tuned, I’m certain these issues will probably be addressed because the run continues.

The forged: 15, and spot-on. Brady delivers bon mots so drolly that you simply need to bear in mind them in your personal functions. Michael Burns’s Henrik credibly despairs in “Later” and in a subsequent savage critique of adults.

Anne is a toddler bride, and Winchester reveals the teenager’s have to please, bewilderment about her position, and, lastly, exuberance when she will be — nicely, a teen.

To Watson falls a curious tune close to present’s finish, “The Miller’s Son.” (Learn Clemente’s astute feedback about it.) She conveys its that means with very good singing and joyous motion.

Because the middle-aged quartet — the characters in best emotional, sexual, and ethical peril — Alexander, Corey, Hahn, and Dodd are nonpareil.

Alexander’s bluster, scowls, and clarion tenor are an ass’s calling card. Scene-stealer Corey delivers Charlotte’s combination of pathos and poison with excellent timing, particularly in “Each Day a Little Dying.”

Olander-Hahn’s easy baritone and performing chops are as safe as I’ve ever seen them. An amusing tune? A young second? Examine and examine.

And the enduring “Ship within the Clowns”: on Friday, Dodd hushed the home, then introduced it down, not with a star flip however with the character’s coronary heart. After all, Dodd had ready us for this second with each line studying and gesture beforehand.

Certainly, bittersweet smiles on a winter’s night time.

“A Little Evening Music”

WHERE: Schenectady Gentle Opera Firm, 427 Franklin St.
WHEN: by January 29
HOW MUCH: $32-$25
MORE INFO: 518.730.7370, or sloctheater.org

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