Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Romantic Intrigue at Palm Beach Dramaworks


Enjoy “A Little Night Music” at Palm Beach Dramaworks

By Skip Sheffield

“Stephen Sondheim is an acquired taste,” muttered the older gentleman at intermission of “A Little Night Music” at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
Yes, Stephen Sondheim is not an “easy” composer-lyricist. “A Little Night Music,” which runs through July 19, was inspired by the Ingmar Bergman Swedish film “Smiles of a Summer Night” and adapted for the stage by Hugh Wheeler. Bergman is not easy either. The title comes from Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.” Are you still with me?
Palm Beach Dramaworks is performing the musical play as reader’s theater, concert-style, under the direction of Lynette Barkley. Some of the cast know their parts better than others. Kim Cozort, who has the lead role of Desiree, knows her role best of all. Desiree is a once-famous actress and daughter of Madame Armfeldt (Joy Franz), a wheelchair bound wealthy woman and owner of a country estate who looks after Desiree’s daughter Frederika (Catherine League). Characters are introduced Greek chorus-style in an overture featuring Mr. Linquist (Matthew Korinko, the strongest male voice in the cast), Mrs. Nordstrom (Georgia Mallory Guy, who also plays oboe in the band), Mrs. Anderssen (Britany Baratz), Mr. Erlanson (Alex Jorth) and Mrs. Segstrom (Angela Miller). The year is 1900 and romantic intrigue is in the air. The chief provocateur is Fredrik Egerman (William Michals), a successful lawyer who has married an 18-year-old “trophy wife” named Anne (Lillie Riccardi). Fredrik has yet to consummate his marriage to Anne after 11 months. This may be a good thing, because Anne secretly has the hots for Fredrik’s moody son Henrik (Clay Cartland), who is just a year older than Anne. Petra (Cristina Flores), the lusty maid of the house, has set her cap for Henrik, who is a seminary student and trying to keep his morals above board.
When Desiree performs in a nearby town, Fredrik and Anne take in the show. Fredrik and Desiree make eye contact, and as the saying goes, sparks fly. Fredrik was once Desiree’s lover, and it seems she wouldn’t mind rekindling that romance.
However, the amoral Desiree has been having a fling with the vain, ridiculous dragoon, Count Carl-Angus (Aloysius Gigi), who is married to Countess Charlotte (Ruthie Stephens). All these intrigues come to a head in “A Weekend in the Country,” with everyone together and at cross purposes in the same house.
The best and most popular song in the wordy, complicated score is “Send in the Clowns,” which is sung by a regretful Desiree and wonderfully realized by Kim Cozort.
While costumes are elaborate, sets are left to the imagination. It’s just as well, for it is the story and its players that enchant. Palm Beach Dramaworks is to be commended for putting on such a cerebral, complex show in the dead of summer.

Tickets are $55. Call 561-514-4042 or go to www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.

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