A Little Night Music

Catherine Zeta-Jones made her Broadway debut as Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music when Trevor Nunn's London production transferred to Broadway.

A Little Night Music

Catherine Zeta-Jones made her Broadway debut as Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music when Trevor Nunn's London production transferred to Broadway.

The Walter Kerr Theatre
New York
"This uneven but welcome revival of Sondheim's classic musical features a triumphant Broadway debut by Catherine Zeta-Jones."
The Hollywood Reporter

About the production

Trevor Nunn's production of A Little Night Music recieved a mixed reception on Broadway, ranging from outright dismissal to enthusiastic praise. Most reviews devoted considerable space to Catherine Zeta-Jones perfomance in her Broadway debut.

Variety:

The most atypical of Ingmar Bergman's celebrated films, "Smiles of a Summer Night" brought ripe carnality and a delicious sense of irony to its fin-de-siecle gathering of romantically muddled Swedes. Those same intoxicating elements were translated to "A Little Night Music," Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's exquisite waltz-musical inspired by the film. Reviving the 1973 show, director Trevor Nunn brings a blunt, heavy hand where a glissando touch is required, but the wit and sophistication of the material are sufficient to withstand even this phlegmatic staging. A handful of magnetic leads provides further insurance against the uneven production.

Hollywood Reporter:

This uneven but welcome revival of Sondheim's classicmusical features a triumphant Broadway debut by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Zeta-Jones, younger than the performers who have traditionally played the role, is captivating as Desiree. The actress has musical theater experience, and it shows; she has terrific stage presence, unlike so many movie stars who tread the boards, and she sings and moves beautifully.

NY1.com:

On that front she was well taught by a mother who prided herself on a life attracting the most desirable among Europe’s ruling class. Angela Lansbury's performance as Madame Armfeldt is magnificient. She nails her lines with the precision and killer timing that’s likely to make her a contender for a sixth Tony Award. [...]

She is well-matched by Zeta-Jones, making a flawless Broadway debut with a performance that is also destined for a Tony nod. She tackles this difficult role with a natural gusto that in effect seduces the audience.

AP:

The first Broadway revival of 'A Little Night Music,' the enchanting, moonstruck musical based on the Ingmar Bergman film 'Smiles of a Summer Night,' is a curious affair. There are some lovely moments, most of them supplied by Angela Lansbury, but too much of this adult, sophisticated show, which opened Sunday at the Walter Kerr Theatre, seems forced, boisterous and a little crude. [...]

Zeta-Jones has a throaty, sensuous voice which she uses to good, flirty effect. But her acting, particularly in the first act, seems overdone, too strenuously self-aware. She is much better in the musical's quieter scenes and shines in Act 2 during her rendition of the show's best-known song, 'Send in the Clowns,' a touching moment of grown-up introspection.

As Desiree's mother, the luminous Lansbury is a wonder. She is just about perfect as the worldly wise Madame Armfeldt, a woman who has tasted all that life has to offer and still enjoys the remembrances – and cynicism – that goes with it.

The 84-year-old actress does something extraordinary, too: her Madame Armfeldt progressively gets more frail as the evening progresses, subtly commenting on one of the musical's more profound themes – the mortality of all, no matter what their station in life. The aging process has never been more eloquently put on display.

Bloomberg:
'Wheeler clumsily shifted some of Bergman’s best scenes or tossed them out altogether. But Sondheim’s waltz-inspired score tells its own story through infectious music and cunning lyrics, with their dazzlingly witty rhymes.'

USA Today: 
'It has been enough of a gift having Angela Lansbury back on Broadway in recent seasons. But it's particular cause for celebration that she is appearing, for the first time in more than 25 years, in a musical. And not just any musical – a work by Stephen Sondheim, with whom she has already made magic more than once.'

The Guardian:

Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, directed by Trevor Nunn and the biggest opening in New York this season, is a tough gig for a Broadway debut, even for a movie star who won an Oscar for Chicago. [...] 

The score is full of choppy, disconcerting numbers, so the pressure on the show's one familiar song is huge. At the opening bars of Send in the Clowns, Zeta-Jones gets a look on her face like something terrible is about to happen, which it is. Glynis Johns, in the Broadway original, did it half-mad, eyes popping, voice rasping. Judi Dench, 10 years ago at the National, was bitter, angry, resigned. Zeta-Jones with her pretty voice, head wresting this way and that, seems to be auditioning for stage school. The scene unfolds as something outside of the play, ring-fenced with hazard lights, like men digging a hole in a road.

Images/video

Collaborators

  • Trevor Nunn, Director
  • Erin Davie
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • Angela Lansbury
  • Aaron Lazar
  • Leigh Ann Larkin
  • Hunter Ryan Herdlicka
  • Ramona Mallory
  • Bradley Dean
  • Marissa McGowan
  • Betsy Morgan
  • Karen Murphy
  • Jayne Paterson
  • Kevin David Thomas