Review: A Little Night Music at the IRT 

***1/2
click to enlarge The cast of 'A Little Night Music' at the Indiana Repertory Theatre includes Grammy winner Sylvia McNair.
  • The cast of 'A Little Night Music' at the Indiana Repertory Theatre includes Grammy winner Sylvia McNair.

Sondheim's musical farce A Little Night Music is a delightful, overlong romp through the lives of culturally elite Swedes, complete with young lovers, a bumbling count, a sardonic countess and a fantastic Greek chorus of singers commenting on every bit of action.

Unfortunately, Sylvia McNair fails to live up to her star billing in the IRT's production. Her rendition of the musical's most memorable number - "Send in the Clowns" - is beautifully sung, but her comic timing is way off in another number, "You Must Meet My Wife," and she fails to realize the pathetic side of Desiree, a washed-up actress in a business that favors youth.

Thankfully McNair is matched by fantastic fellow performers who fully embody both comic and tragic elements of their characters. As Fredrik Egerman, James Rank gives a heartfelt portrayal of a pathetic older man seeking a renewal of his youth. Rank's overwhelming charm is matched wonderfully by Grace Morgan as his hopelessly naïve child-bride.

Outstanding comic performances from Glenn Seven Allen and Jacquelynne Fontaine as Count and Countess Malcolm add another delicious layer of duality to the production. And Fontaine Syer rounds out the ensemble nicely as Madame Armfeldt, giving a stunning rendition of "Liaisons."

The show runs closer to three hours than the front of house staff is willing to admit, but the opportunity to see Sondheim's masterpiece performed by a talented cast and a full orchestra is rare.

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