Saturday, December 3, 2011
Magical "Night Music" Fills the Air this Holiday Season!
To produce a musical in a tiny black box buried in downtown Wilmington is quite a feat – and to find so many excellent voices and musicians to execute it is a second feat. With no orchestra pit, no wings and very few props, City Theatre Company has a terrific hit with their show A little night music – Stephen Sondheim’s musical based on Ingmar Bergman’s farce movie, Smiles of a Summer Evening.
There must have been a reason to have the singers gather in front of the orchestra at the start of the show, but I couldn’t fathom it. With their backs to the audience, they got our attention and their abrupt turn to face us was like a curtain rising.
Michele Ferdinand dotted every I, t and quarter note in her musical direction and in spite of an occasional lack of clarity from the choral quintet, the attacks and endings of words and pieces was flawless. Michael Gray, who starred as the older husband and lover, codirected with Tom Shade. Gray’s singing, acting and comic sense was the backbone of the production. His young wife Anne, played by Dylan Geringer, was delightful. Her ability to reach the murderously high notes Sondheim wrote made her songs seem easy.
And where did all this talent come from? Casey Elizabeth Gill seemed to have walked off a Broadway stage. Her miming, playfulness and incredible voice were just plain knockout. When she sings her cynical yet vivacious Miller’s Son she runs the gamut of emotion and sound that emulates life’s ups and downs.
Karen Murdoch is, as the song says, perfect as the warm but conniving mistress who, in spite of it all, has warmth which will melt you after you are softened by the haunting clarinet introduction to Send in the clowns. Murdoch has that knack for a quiet coda that takes your breath away.
Dorien Belle’s bumbling Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm creates such a perfect foil for lawyer Fredrik. Their duet, It would have been wonderful had that magic timing that every musician hopes for – the courage to wait until that final microsecond with calm assurance.
Victoria Healy is a mistress of comedy – she, too, knows exactly how to time her punches.
The set was minimal, but with inventive staging, terrific choreography – fantastic opening scene of all the characters awakening, the transitions from house to theatre to backstage to country mansion worked with ease.
Production runs December 2 through December 17, with one Sunday matinee on Sunday, December 11, at 2:00pm. Closing Night is Saturday, December 17 with Closing Night Party at Extreme Pizza.