Sondheim fans will find a lot to love in Ti-Ahwaga’s ‘A Little Night Music’

Reviewed by Nancy Oliveri

For a perfect way to end a long week, check out the Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical, A Little Night Music, at Owego’s Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center. The show, directed by James Osborne, finds its inspiration in Mozart, Shakespeare and the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night. But even without those references, the average theater-goer can enjoy this for what it is — a romantic comedy with no shortage of great music.

Night Music is one of those shows that I just never happened to catch, although it’s been around since the early ’70s. But who doesn’t know its signature song, “Send in the Clowns?” This number comes late in the second act of the show, but the lovely Andrea Gregori’s rendition is worth the wait. With the clarity and control of a  trained opera singer, she is a true diva, in the best sense of the word.

Gregori and Wm. Clark Snyder play the not-dead-yet pair: Desiree Armfelt, aging stage actress, and Fredrik Egerman, her former lover. The two still find each other attractive, despite the complications that have arisen since they last met in their youth; i.e.,  his marriage to a very young and chaste debutante and her open liaison with a jealous, younger but married count. Desiree also has an out-of-wedlock child, who lives with her mother, Madame Armfeldt.

My friends and I came to Ti-Ahwaga’s opening night performance, which could have had a bigger audience, but not a more appreciative one. Possibly due to the bistro seating being only a little more than two thirds full, the opening night performance lacked some of the energy I am sure that all of these performers have the capacity to bring to it, and which would have been fed by a full house. (If West Side Story hadn’t been playing in Binghamton that night, I believe the Ti-Ahwaga house would have been full of die-hard musical lovers.)

Night Music has a fairly large cast, and there are many, many notable performances. With a droll, spot-on delivery, some wonderful expressions and a fine singing voice, Lauren Bass, is perfect as Countess Charlotte Malcolm, the openly scorned, but tolerant, wife of Count Carl Magnus, confidently played by John Rozzoni.

Deb Trusky is good as the wheelchair-bound Madame Armfelt, although a bit too young for the role of Desiree’s frustrated, reminiscing mother.

Reidan Pitarresi is great as Fredrik’s son, Henrik, a randy but stifled young divinity student, with Sydney Hill as his willing tease, the family maid, Petra. Henrik’s admission of love to his father’s young bride, Anne (Leigh Dolan) is fun to watch.

One of the unsung heroes of this show is the assistant musical director and pianist, Colin DeLap, who is present on stage throughout providing accompaniment for all. And when Hill is not on stage acting, she is playing her cello with DeLap.

IF YOU GO: Performances continue this weekend (June 6-8) and next (June 13-15) at the Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center, 42 Delphine St., Owego. Curtain is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. For ticket information, call the box office at 687-2130. Visit the Ti-Ahwaga Community Players on Facebook to see some wonderful photos from the show.

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