It isn't exactly breaking news that the New York City Opera is planning to revive its production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music in the fall of 2003; Paul Gemignani, who is set to conduct the show as he did when it was first presented at NYCO in 1990, talked about plans for the revival at a recent press preview of Into the Woods (which he is also conducting), and denizens of certain internet chat sites have been posting away about it. What could turn out to be tremendously exciting news is the casting of the show: Word is that NYCO is going after Glenn Close to play Desirée, Kevin Kline to play Fredrick, and Angela Lansbury to play Madame Armfeldt. (You can start breathing again NOW.)
Though this casting is miles away from definite, it sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Close has been mentioned as the star of a possible Broadway revival of Night Music for some time; a likely scenario is that the City Opera production would transfer to an open-ended run in a Main Stem house if the services of a top-flight cast were to be secured for more than a few months, and if the reviews are good enough. Though Close attained movie stardom years ago, she came back to Broadway (not crawling, either!) in Death and the Maiden with Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman...and, oh yes, in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. Kline trod the boards last summer after a long absence, co-starring with Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Natalie Portman in The Seagull for the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte in Central Park. As for Lansbury, who is ever loyal to the theater and to Stephen Sondheim, she may view Madame Armfeldt as an ideal role for her long-awaited return to the stage at an advanced age. She was, of course, to have starred in Kander & Ebb's The Visit on Broadway but dropped out of the project--reportedly due to the illness of her husband, Peter Shaw. (The Visit was eventually mounted at the Goodman Theater in Chicago starring Chita Rivera, who earned stellar notices and who presumably will continue in the show when and if it does make it to New York.)
City Opera's Night Music debuted in 1990 with a cast that included Sally Ann Howes, George Lee Andrews, and Regina Resnik. The production was directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Susan Stroman, both of whom will reportedly be on hand for the revival. With music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, the show originally opened on Broadway in 1973, starring Glynis Johns, Len Cariou, and Hermione Gingold under the direction of Harold Prince. A disastrous film version, also directed by Prince, had Elizabeth Taylor as Desirée. The score of the show includes "Send in the Clowns," probably the most famous song for which Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics.