Getting the jump on the festival of Stephen Sondheim musicals to be presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. next year, the world-class Philadelphia Orchestra is offering concert performances of one of Sondheim's most gloriously melodious shows, A Little Night Music, this week. The cast is headed by the magnificent stage and screen actress Irene Worth as Madame Armfeldt and the concert's narrator, Michele Pawk and John Dossett (a couple in real life) as once and future lovers Desirée Armfeldt and Fredrik Egerman, Angela Gaylor as Anne, Marc Kudisch (fresh from Bells Are Ringing) as Carl-Magnus, Derin Altay as Charlotte, Jonathan Dokuchitz as Frid, Angela Robinson as Petra, and Siri Howard as Fredrika. The role of Henrik will be played by Kevin Anderson--not the actor who co-starred with Patti LuPone in Sunset Blvd. in London, but the opera singer who was previously seen and heard as Henrik in the New York City Opera production of Night Music. The magnificent Philadelphia Orchestra will be conducted by Sondheim specialist Paul Gemignani, and stage direction will be provided by B.T. McNicholl.
This new concert version will present the entire score of Night Music, with dialogue adapted by McNicholl from the original book of the musical by the late Hugh Wheeler. Sondheim aficionados can also look forward to two additions: "Silly People," sung by the butler Frid, which was cut from the score before the its Broadway opening in 1973; and an extended version of "The Glamorous Life" that will combine for the first time the original number and the almost entirely different song of the same title written by Sondheim for the 1976 film version of the show. Unofficial word is that this presentation is meant to establish an authorized concert version of the musical that may then be licensed for presentation by other orchestras--e.g., the New York Philaharmonic, which has had spectacular success with its all-star concerts of Sondheim's Follies and Sweeney Todd.
Produced on Broadway by Harold Prince, who also directed the show and its subsequent movie version, A Little Night Music was suggested by the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night. The original cast of the musical included Glynis Johns, Len Cariou, and Hermione Gingold.
The Philadelphia Orchestra's A Little Night Music will be presented for two performances only: this Wednesday and Thursday, July 11 and 12, at 8pm in the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, located in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. For ticket information and/or reservations, phone 215-893-1999.