A Little Night Music opens at Next Stage Arts

Andrew Flaherty as Henrik Egerman and Christy Thomas as Anne Egerman. Photo provided

PUTNEY, Vt. – The sexy 1973 Broadway musical “A Little Night Music,” presented by the Wild Goose Players, premiered on Friday night, Nov. 11 at the Next Stage Arts theater in Putney, Vt., directed by David Stern, with musical direction by Mary Westbrook-Geha.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, the romantic farce tells the story of a group of mismatched, upper middle-class couples in early twentieth-century Sweden. Inspired by the 1955 Ingmar Bergman film, “Smiles of a Summer Night” and described as, “An evening of sexual musical chairs on the longest night of the year,” the musical is perhaps best known for the popular song, “Send in the Clowns.” Morganna Ekkens, who plays actress Desirée Armfeldt, and Gavy Kessler, in the role of lawyer Fredrik Egerman, bring their considerable talents to the classic song, with Ekkens’ performance being especially poignant.

The rest of the cast is equally impressive, displaying a level of professionalism, enjoyment, and nuance. The production was well received by an appreciative audience.

A quintet of singers opens the first act, entering one by one, harmonizing a blended overture of the show’s songs. These five characters act as a whimsical Greek chorus, and offer commentary throughout the show. The main couples then come waltzing onto the stage, awkwardly switching partners until the prologue ends with the entrance of Madame Armfeldt. Arriving in a wheelchair guided by her butler, Frid (Sam Cotton), and portrayed with a sardonic ennui by Libby McCawley, Madame Armfeldt philosophizes with her 13-year-old granddaughter Fredrika (Teya Bryan), while playing a game of solitaire. “Solitaire is the only thing in life that demands absolute honesty,” declares the Madame.

Teya Bryan as Fredrika Armfeldt and Libby McCawley as Madame Armfeldt. Photo provided

Madame Armfeldt tells her granddaughter that the summer night smiles three times at human beings and their foolishness. “The first smile smiles at the young, who know nothing. The second, at the fools who know too little. . . and the third at the old who know too much.” This prediction plays out in a touching and delightful way, through an evening of exposed secrets, romantic trysts, true love, jealousy, and soul-searching.

Involved in theater for over 35 years, Stern became the Artistic Director for the Wild Goose Players after filling that role at Main Street Arts in Saxtons River from 2014–2020. While there, Stern, and much of the “Wild Goose” team, led productions including “Sweeny Todd,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Chicago,” and “The Secret Garden.”

Welcoming the crowd to the Next Stage Theater, Stern thanked everyone for coming and supporting the Wild Goose Players and community theater in general. He encouraged everyone to join their team of dedicated volunteers, either on stage performing, or working behind the scenes, and added that monetary donations were also always welcome.

The Wild Goose Players call Bellows Falls, Vt. home. Their next production, the Mark Hollmann/Greg Kotis musical “Urinetown,” will go on at the Bellows Falls Opera House in March of 2023. A summer 2023 production coinciding with the 100th anniversary of “The Velveteen Rabbit” will be performed outdoors, with free admission for kids.

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