Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 11, 2022

REVIEW: Barrington Stage Company, "A Little Night Music"

Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, Ma.
through August 28, 2022
by Jarice Hanson

Photo by Daniel Rader
What can be more perfect than a show about love, and the magic of a summer night on a
perfect summer night in the Berkshires?  Barrington Stage Company’s version of “A Little Night Music” now on the Boyd-Quinson stage is as close to perfection as a show can be. 

Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful music and lyrics deserve to be heard, and the talented cast of this production delivers with perfect articulation and pacing that gives the audience time to register the meaning of his clever word play, all set to variations of three-quarter musical time that makes you feel a part of the dance.   

Everything about the Barrington Stage production is beautiful—from Yoon Bae’s scene design to Sara Jean Tosetti’s costumes, which included some very clever wigs, to David Lander’s expert lighting design and Leon Rothenberg’s sound design.  Musical director Darren R. Cohen once again balances perfect accompaniment to the voices of the talented cast, and BSC's choreographer Robert La Fosse has the actors gliding seamlessly across the stage.

When the musical opened on Broadway it won six Tony Awards, and the brightness of Hugh Wheeler’s book and Sondheim’s quintessentially “Sondheimian” score has continued to be heralded as a masterpiece, but in this production, director Julianne Boyd has allowed the humor to really shine.   Some of the best repartee occurs between Charlotte (Sierra Boggess) and her husband, the pompous dragoon, Carl-Magnus (Cooper Grodin), and highlights the yin and yang of marriage and social mores.   Desiree (Emily Skinner) and Fredrik (Jason Danieley) flirt and bond with passion and the joy of young love that has been “seasoned” by the years and by desire and expectation.

“A Little Night Music” has some of Sondheim’s most well-known songs, and two of them are show-stoppers in this production.   In Act I, Madame Armfeldt’s, “Liasons” sung by the wonderful Mary Beth Piel is heartfelt and truly breathtaking.   In Act II, Emily Skinner’s interpretation of “Send in the Clowns” is masterful, haunting, and original.

For Julianne Boyd, this production caps an extraordinary 28 year tenure as both the founder and Artistic Director of Barrington Stage. In her brief curtain speech, she mentions how she has always loved this musical.  The love shows, and if this is her parting gift to her audiences, we can only return the love with the type of response the audience can be expected to give night after night.   A standing ovation, for sure.