IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Team playing from ensemble highlights IRT's 'Night Music'

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

My least favorite song in “A Little Night Music” is “Send in the Clowns.”

The show’s one tune known to the masses (and composer Stephen Sondheim’s only break-out hit), the song has become the musical equivalent of the “To be or not to be” speech for cabaret singers and Broadway stars.

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ performance of it at the 2010 Tony Awards sent me digging through the couch cushions for the remote. Barbra Streisand, with her “Don’t bother/they’re here” whisper, made me glad she’s never played the part. And Judy Collins’ has gotten more trill-heavy with age.

So it is with great pleasure I report that, on opening night of “A Little Night Music” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Sylvia McNair nailed the tune.

And the singer more accustomed to opera houses than regional theaters did it not by treating the song like a stand-alone aria but by firmly anchoring it in character, place and moment. She uses it to give us a heartbreaking look into the soul of the seemingly frivolous Desiree Armfeldt, the touring actress at the heart of the Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical.

The wry romance (even the wise matriarch character sings of her multiple liaisons and the goods acquired from them) concerns Desiree’s reuniting with Fredrik, a past partner who may have been the love of her life. Their re-sparking is complicated by Fredrik’s young wife and grim son, and by Desiree’s daughter, knowing mother and jealous lover … and her lover’s bitter wife.

But amid the confusion, the sexual tussling, and even some gunplay, this is the story of middle-age love, connections missed, and second chances artfully adapted from Ingmar Bergman’s film “Smiles of a Summer Night.”

For the most part, the first full-scale musical tackled by the IRT in about 20 years is solid. The seven-piece orchestra, parked under the stage, sounds great. The elaborate costumes and minimal sets are smartly designed.

And, while it may sound contradictory, there’s stand-out ensemble work by James Rank, who crafts a Fredrik who knows he’s not the most interesting person in the room; Grace Morgan, who gives us an Anne free from the cartooning that can tempt lesser actresses playing his nearly child bride; and Jacquelynne Fontaine who, as the long-suffering wife of Desiree’s lover, delivers a riveting duet with Morgan on “Every Day a Little Death.”
ae-promo
If only Julie Conuel, as the randy maid Petra, hadn’t been allowed to turn “The Miller’s Son” (my favorite song in the show) into an “American Idol” audition. And if, as Madame Armfeldt, Fontaine Syer had had more fragility in her DNA. She’s a fine actress in the wrong part.

McNair smoothly blends in with the ensemble, making this “Night Music” memorable not as a diva showcase but perhaps as the production that launched a series of smart, fun, actor-driven musicals at the IRT. I look forward to seeing if one makes it onto the 2013/2014 schedule.•


__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Musical Suggestion for IRT
    Janet - If you're listening, try the rarely-produced but beautiful Andrew Lloyd Webber "Aspects of Love".
  • Let's hope IRT starts doing more musicals
    Shows like ALNM and The Light in the Piazza seem like perfect fits for the IRT. It's really sad that our main rep theater doesn't do at least one musical each season.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Apologies for the wall of text. I promise I had this nicely formatted in paragraphs in Notepad before pasting here.

  2. I believe that is incorrect Sir, the people's tax-dollars are NOT paying for the companies investment. Without the tax-break the company would be paying an ADDITIONAL $11.1 million in taxes ON TOP of their $22.5 Million investment (Building + IT), for a total of $33.6M or a 50% tax rate. Also, the article does not specify what the total taxes were BEFORE the break. Usually such a corporate tax-break is a 'discount' not a 100% wavier of tax obligations. For sake of example lets say the original taxes added up to $30M over 10 years. $12.5M, New Building $10.0M, IT infrastructure $30.0M, Total Taxes (Example Number) == $52.5M ININ's Cost - $1.8M /10 years, Tax Break (Building) - $0.75M /10 years, Tax Break (IT Infrastructure) - $8.6M /2 years, Tax Breaks (against Hiring Commitment: 430 new jobs /2 years) == 11.5M Possible tax breaks. ININ TOTAL COST: $41M Even if you assume a 100% break, change the '30.0M' to '11.5M' and you can see the Company will be paying a minimum of $22.5, out-of-pocket for their capital-investment - NOT the tax-payers. Also note, much of this money is being spent locally in Indiana and it is creating 430 jobs in your city. I admit I'm a little unclear which tax-breaks are allocated to exactly which expenses. Clearly this is all oversimplified but I think we have both made our points! :) Sorry for the long post.

  3. Clearly, there is a lack of a basic understanding of economics. It is not up to the company to decide what to pay its workers. If companies were able to decide how much to pay their workers then why wouldn't they pay everyone minimum wage? Why choose to pay $10 or $14 when they could pay $7? The answer is that companies DO NOT decide how much to pay workers. It is the market that dictates what a worker is worth and how much they should get paid. If Lowe's chooses to pay a call center worker $7 an hour it will not be able to hire anyone for the job, because all those people will work for someone else paying the market rate of $10-$14 an hour. This forces Lowes to pay its workers that much. Not because it wants to pay them that much out of the goodness of their heart, but because it has to pay them that much in order to stay competitive and attract good workers.

  4. GOOD DAY to you I am Mr Howell Henry, a Reputable, Legitimate & an accredited money Lender. I loan money out to individuals in need of financial assistance. Do you have a bad credit or are you in need of money to pay bills? i want to use this medium to inform you that i render reliable beneficiary assistance as I'll be glad to offer you a loan at 2% interest rate to reliable individuals. Services Rendered include: *Refinance *Home Improvement *Inventor Loans *Auto Loans *Debt Consolidation *Horse Loans *Line of Credit *Second Mortgage *Business Loans *Personal Loans *International Loans. Please write back if interested. Upon Response, you'll be mailed a Loan application form to fill. (No social security and no credit check, 100% Guaranteed!) I Look forward permitting me to be of service to you. You can contact me via e-mail howellhenryloanfirm@gmail.com Yours Sincerely MR Howell Henry(MD)

  5. It is sad to see these races not have a full attendance. The Indy Car races are so much more exciting than Nascar. It seems to me the commenters here are still a little upset with Tony George from a move he made 20 years ago. It was his decision to make, not yours. He lost his position over it. But I believe the problem in all pro sports is the escalating price of admission. In todays economy, people have to pay much more for food and gas. The average fan cannot attend many events anymore. It's gotten priced out of most peoples budgets.

ADVERTISEMENT