Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 11, 2008

A Little Night Music

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow, MA
Now through May 17, 2008
May 9, 2008
By Donna Bailey-Thompson

If the meanings within the song, "Send In The Clowns" have eluded you, the answers await within the musical now glowing at Exit 7 Players theater. At the core of this engrossing marriage of lyrics which along with the spoken word propel the plot forward, is love that reveals its link with the four basic emotions: mad, glad, sad, and afraid.

"A Little Night Music" bursts open with a Greek-like chorus of five superb singers: Harrison King III, Mary Annarella, Michelle Liaszenik, Katie Clark (who knows how to sell a song) and at the performance I saw, Director Robert Laviolette filled in for laryngitis-silenced Ken Hebert. They deliver Stephen Sondheim’s intricate lyrics and music at a steady clip – the Sondheim signature: do not to fret if there’s not time to catch every word.

A plot synopsis can only hint at the rampant hanky-panky, the desperate longings, the pain of betrayals. An aging attorney, Fredrik (winningly portrayed by Phil Prather) has wed Anne, a mere girl (the delightful Stephanie Devine). His former lover, Desiree (Roxanne Labato, a polished pro), is a worldly courtesan, and her current amour Count Carl-Magnus (forceful Andy Banas) is jealous and his wife Countess Charlotte (Mary Fernandez-Sierra who almost steals the show) grows a spine, sort of. When she describes her pain as a betrayed wife in, "Every Day A Little Death," the destructive power of adultery is laid bare. Featured in the large cast is the young love-starved seminarian Henrik (an endearing Michael Holt), perky Petra (Jami Wilson), winsome Fredrika (Sara Banning) and her weary grandmother Madame Armfeldt (Esta Busi). Zack Parizo, Aileen Terzi, Sarah Dion and Marc Parsons perform their supporting roles with imbedded characterization.

Act One ends with all liaisons poised to implode during Act Two – a weekend in the country at Madame Armfeldt’s palatial mansion (designed and painted by Ken Samonds). Costumer Maryann Scognamiglio has created a symphony of beautiful, lush costumes. that reflect early 1900 styles.

Kudos to Director Robert Laviolette and Musical Director Bill Martin for bringing in an intricate, tricky, first-rate show in keeping with the Exit 7 Players commitment to present quality performances. Their "A Little Night Music" is a community theater triumph.