The Great Hall, The Arts Centre, Christchurch

10/06/2022 - 18/06/2022

Production Details

By Stephen Sondheim
Director: Louise Glossop
Musical Director: Mark W. Dorrell

The show is set in Sweden at the turn of the last century and has been hailed as “heady, civilised and enchanting” (Clive Barnes, The New York Times). The story centres around the charismatic actress, Desirée Armfeldt, and the choices she has made and continues to make. Desirée (played by Christchurch’s much-loved singer and actor Ali Harper) brings us Sondheim’s most commercially successful Grammy-winning song “Send in the Clowns”.

A Little Night Music’s exceptional company includes Ali Harper, Jonathan Densem, Amanda Atlas, John Bayne, Katie Atkins, Alex McHugh, Catherine Hay, Drew Noble, Blair McHugh, Tara Martin and Shannon Hurley.  They will be joined by well-known Wellington-based singer Jane Keller, and promising younger Christchurch performers Maddie Glossop and Sophie Landis.  The cast is complemented by upcoming performers Scott Christie, Elizabeth Ellison, Emily Maunder, Sarah Clare Judd and Sonya Li-McHenry.

At the helm is Director Louise Glossop producing her second musical for Enchanting Productions following the successful season of The Secret Garden in 2021.  Enchanting Productions is a chamber theatre company formed to bring beautiful musicals to patrons who enjoy top quality theatre at a reasonable price.  It also provides a training ground for aspiring performers to work alongside and learn from their more experienced colleagues.

The production’s Musical Director, Mark W. Dorrell, a friend and colleague of Stephen Sondheim, conducted the National Theatre’s production of A Little Night Music in 1995 which starred Dame Judi Dench.  He is thrilled to be working with such a wonderful company on this ravishingly beautiful score again – “whipped cream with knives” is how the original director Hal Prince once described it.

Stephen Sondheim, who died last year, was one of the world’s most influential musical theatre writers, and is known for his many award-winning musicals including West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods.  His insightful perceptions of the complexities of love, life and relationships are displayed in his always sophisticated, witty, and entertaining works.

A Little Night Music opened on Broadway in 1973 winning six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score.

The Christchurch Arts Centre at The Great Hall
10-18 June 2022
$55 Adult
50 Senior 
$25 Student
Bookings: www.artscentre.org.nz  

Madame Armfeldt – Jane Keller
Desirée Armfeldt – Ali Harper
Fredrika Armfeldt – Madeleine Glossop and Sophie Landis
Fredrik Egerman – Jonathan Densem
Anne Egerman – Katie Atkins
Henrik Egerman – Alex McHugh Count
Carl-Magnus Malcolm – John Bayne
Countess Charlotte Malcolm – Amanda Atlas
Petra – Catherine Hay
Frid – Drew Noble
Malla – Sarah Judd
Bertrand – Sonya Li-McHenry
Osa – Emily Maunder
Mr Lindquist – Blair McHugh
Liebeslieder – Tara Martin
Liebeslieder – Shannon Hurley
Mr Erlanson – Scott Christie
Liebeslieder – Elizabeth Ellison

Director – Louise Glossop
Music Director/Pianist – Mark W. Dorrell
Assistant MD/Bassoonist – Gabriel Baird
Choreographer – Maria Morris
Choreography Mentor – Hillary Moulder
Waltzing Coach – Marcella Herrera
Lighting Designer – Grant Robertson
Sound – Meghan MacAskill
Set Designer – Harold Moot 

Musical , Theatre ,

Absolutely enchanting

Review by Ruth Agnew 11th Jun 2022

Enchanting Productions is emerging as an exciting addition to the Ōtautahi musical theatre scene. Their debut production of A Secret Garden was well received and well attended, but tackling Stephen Sondheim’s 1973 Broadway blockbuster A Little Night Music seemed an ambitious leap for a fledgling company. Thankfully, this leap of faith is an absolute success, lifted by the strong core cast, and a fitting celebration of the late, great composer.

Set in Sweden around the start of the 20th century, A Little Night Music follows the complicated love lives of actress Desiree Armfeldt, her suitors and their spouses. Desiree’s former lover, lawyer Fredrik Egerman, has yet to consummate his marriage to Anne (a woman younger than his son, Henrik) and returns to the arms of the alluring actress, enraging her current beau, Count Car-Magnus Malcolm. He orders his wife to inform Fredrik’s child bride of his indiscretions. A weekend in the country airs the grievances and yearnings of the couples, before neatly reassembling the players into more compatible partnerships.

A Little Night Music features some of Sondheim’s most challenging songs. The characters’ torrid romantic entanglements are expressed in complex layered contrapuntal duets, trios and quintets. Director Louise Glossop must be commended for her fine casting choices here.

The always outstanding Ali Harper is radiant in the central role of Desiree. Her songs are perhaps the least demanding in the show but ‘Send in the Clowns’ is the highlight of the night. Harper’s luminescence is matched by an impressive line up of professionals in the other lead roles, many of whom will be familiar to followers of musical theatre.

Jonathan Densem (Fredrik), John Bayne (Carl-Magnus), Katie Atkins (Anne) and Amanda Atlas (Charlotte) demonstrate extraordinary vocal ability in their confident renditions of Sondheim’s tricky intertwining reprises and harmonies. Densem and Atkins are particularly adept when handling the lyrical inner monologues, while Bayne’s booming baritone is so perfect for the jealous dragoon, I can imagine Sondheim looking down and nodding his approval.

The Great Hall is an interesting venue for a Broadway musical. While the rich heritage and history of the space suits the style of the show, the small stage, lack of a backstage area and orchestra pit means creative solutions must be employed with sets and ensemble numbers. The simplistic colour palette used in the set and costumes give the sense of being in a doll’s house. The revolving flats and dragging scene changes are more evocative of a high school operetta than polished professional production.

This is a confident, secure rendition of one of Sondheim’s most popular musicals. Christchurch light opera fans are lucky to have world class performers and musicians here, and to be able to enjoy them for an affordable ticket price. Absolutely enchanting.


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