The Broadway Musical Blog – Musical theater news and gossip from the Great White Way

Dishing out daily (or almost daily) Broadway musical news and gossip. The companion site to The Broadway Musical Home (broadwaymusicalhome.com), a directory of Broadway musicals with the story, songs, merchandise, video clips, lyrics, tickets, rights & awards for almost 200 shows.

The reviews for A Little Night Music are in …

A Little Night Music, the Sondheim musical starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury, opened to mixed reviews. The verdict – the show is largely heavy-handed, with stand out performances by the two headliners. Here’s what the major publications had to say:

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. Read the full review

USA Today

Lansbury created roles in two Sondheim shows, the short-lived cult classic Anyone Can Whistle (undone by a messy libretto) and the enduring masterpiece Sweeney Todd. Now, at 84, she is gloriously reviving the part of Madame Armfeldt in director Trevor Nunn’s new production of A Little Night Music (*** out of four), which opened Sunday at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Read the full review

Backstage.com

I have always felt that director Trevor Nunn approaches musicals and plays with different palettes: broad and bold for the former, detailed and nuanced for the latter. In this chamber version of “A Little Night Music,” however, he seems to have applied his play palette to a musical. While it’s hard not to miss the romantic sweep and orchestral lushness of Harold Prince’s glorious original production, which I saw on national tour multiple times, what Nunn delivers is a persuasive and entertaining account of a great American musical. Read the full review

Associated Press

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. Read the full review

Hollywood Reporter

Bottom Line: This uneven but welcome revival of Sondheim’s classic musical features a triumphant Broadway debut by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Read the full review

The New York Times

Nunn’s “Little Night Music,” the first full Broadway revival of the show, may well be a hit too, though not because of any artistic finesse. It has what is a producer’s favorite form of insurance these days: stars known to the public from movies, television and tabloids, of whom people can later say things like “She’s even more beautiful in person” (as they surely will of the lustrous Zeta-Jones) or “She’s amazing for her age” (in reference to the 84-year-old Lansbury). Read the full review

NewJerseyNewsroom.com

Looking as elegant as the musical she graces, Catherine Zeta-Jones makes a smashing Broadway debut in a wistful revival of “A Little Night Music.” Co-starred with the redoubtable Angela Lansbury as her imperious old mama in a romantic comedy set in early 1900s Sweden, Zeta-Jones portrays Desiree, a middle-aged actress who gets a second chance at true love with a former flame. Read the full review

New York Magazine

ALNM is among Sondheim’s near-perfect creations, but it’s not without its challenges, over and above the complexity of the music: Maunder overmuch and the show’s a drag; shine up the comedy and it risks coming off as a yuppie you-can-have-it-all manifesto. Maintaining that balance is the job of Desiree and Frederik, and Zeta-Jones-a tremendous presence here, in great voice-mates up with Hanson perfectly: They play Desiree and Frederik as extremely magnetic, fabulously charming, utterly empty people. I say this admiringly: Yes, they have feelings, deep and complex; yes, despite their many sins, they deserve love as much as anyone. But neither Zeta-Jones-whose “Send in the Clowns” is a shattering cry from the void-nor Hanson nor Nunn makes any excuses for the pair’s intrinsic emotional vacuity or their confessed inability to transcend themselves in any sort of human union. They’re cool, at best, to their children, genially indifferent to their peers, and they see, in one another, smoked-mirror reflections of themselves. They cancel each other-and, in the half-light, that’s good enough. Read the full review

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