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HomeOperaVocal splendors shine in 'A Little Evening Music' at Reston Group Gamers

Vocal splendors shine in ‘A Little Evening Music’ at Reston Group Gamers


Primarily based on Smiles of a Summer season Evening, the nice Swedish movie director Ingmar Bergman’s solely comedy, A Little Evening Music stands as Stephen Sondheim’s closest method to a rom-com, albeit one with the psychological complexity and shades of darkness for which Sondheim is justly well-known. The story follows interlocking, mismatched {couples} as, considerably regardless of themselves, they grope their approach towards the relationships they really want.

The vocal high quality of the Reston Group Gamers solid is great, beginning with the quintet (Richard Jacobson, Claudia Barbish, Nour Bahri, Alden Michaels, and Amanda Jones), who open the present with its sung overture and, as a form of Scandinavian Greek refrain, ceaselessly touch upon characters, conditions, and, in one in all their finest moments, the oddity of residing within the land of the midnight solar. If one needed to identify the brightest star amongst a superb solid, the quintet could be it. To director Andy Regiec’s credit score, he provides members of the quintet some transient, efficient performing moments, a possibility that many productions miss.

The solid of ‘A Little Evening Music.’ Picture by Heather Regan Pictures.

As that exemplar of poisonous masculinity, Rely Malcolm, baritone James Rogers supplies essentially the most spectacular efficiency of  “In Reward of Girls” I’ve ever heard, sustaining the track’s ultimate word to the viewers’s acclaim. As a comic book actor, Rogers succeeds by permitting his character to take himself very severely always, by no means betraying any consciousness of how ridiculous he’s.

Among the many youthful characters, Shakil Azizi as Henrik is convincing in his late teenage angst and emotionally volatility, mixed with mastery of the wide-ranging vocal gymnastics of his first act track, “Later.” As his counterpart, Anne, Shelby Younger has the pure, excessive soprano sound wanted for her ingénue position, first on show in “Quickly.” Younger handles nicely Anne’s second act awakening to the truth that she has actual emotions to behave upon, past the frivolousness she has used to maintain them at bay.

The lead couple, Fredrik and Desirée (Joshua and Jennifer Redford), are long-ago lovers who dance tentatively round each other, craving for reconnection but not, till virtually too late, immediately confronting what they really feel. This creates good alternatives for comedy, as of their first act quantity, “You Should Meet My Spouse.” It additionally results in the best-known track within the present, Desirée’s “Ship within the Clowns,” during which she contends, in a temper of rueful resignation, with crushed hopes. Veteran actress that Desirée is, she does so in poignant theatrical metaphors.

Joshua Redford (Fredrik Egerman) and Jennifer Redford (Desirée Armfeldt) in ‘A Little Evening Music.’ Picture by Heather Regan Pictures.

Sondheim wrote the track, with its slim vary and brief phrases, for the unique Desirée, Glynnis Johns, an actor with very restricted singing capability. It’s best offered completely straight. When a great singer, like Redford, does the quantity, it may be laborious to keep away from just a few vocal interpretive touches that depart from the track’s highly effective simplicity.

Maybe the present’s most advanced character is Charlotte, Rely Malcolm’s conflicted and far put-upon spouse, who has a love-hate relationship not solely together with her husband however together with her personal sexuality. Mel Gumina sings her track, “Each Day a Little Loss of life,” capably, although there are some psychological depths within the character she doesn’t fairly attain.

Mayumi Raine Gant (Frederika Armfeldt) and Sue Pinkman (Madame Armfeldt) in ‘A Little Evening Music.’ Picture by Heather Regan Pictures.

Sue Pinkman might be essentially the most ambulatory Madame Armfeldt (Desirée’s acerbic, aged mom) I’ve ever seen, rising from her wheelchair to maneuver about throughout most of “Liaisons,” her lament in regards to the insistence of youthful generations for forming relationships based mostly on love relatively than worldly achieve. In one of many present’s finest traces, she refers to intercourse as however “a pleasurable means to a measurable finish.” Her constant vigor makes her last-minute instantaneous loss of life — a facet of the present that has by no means labored in any manufacturing I’ve seen or participated in — even much less credible than regular.

Apparently, Sondheim provides what was once known as the “11 o’clock quantity” to a comparatively minor character, Anne’s maid Petra. Cody Boehm provides a rousing rendition of “I Will Marry the Miller’s Son,” an anthem to the playful enjoyment of carnality mixed with melancholy in regards to the limits of alternatives for lower-class ladies.

The present’s profitable ensemble singing is just not restricted to the quintet, with difficult numbers just like the first-act counterpart trio amongst Fredrik, Anne, and Henrik and the wondrous first-act finale, “A Weekend within the Nation,” being prime examples. Lucia LaNave deserves credit score not just for the manufacturing’s vocal virtues however the taking part in of the orchestra, which typically grappled nicely with Sondheim’s always-challenging rating.

Regiec retains the advanced relationships among the many ensemble solid clear, including some beautiful particulars I haven’t seen in different productions, corresponding to not solely Rely Malcolm however Fredrik and his get together arriving at Madame Armfeldt’s property of their motorcars, as befitting male rivals making an attempt to one-up one another. Phillip Smith-Cobbs’ choreography, above all within the opening quintet and “Evening Waltz” sequences, is sleek and flowing, in line with the temper and ¾ time signature of the rating.

The set, designed by Regiec and Skip Gresko, depends totally on all kinds of small items, like furnishings and bushes, being wheeled or pushed on and off stage by solid members. Given the variety of scene modifications within the present, this course of cumulatively provides to the manufacturing’s prolonged operating time. There’s additionally in depth use of the theater’s fly area, with the flown-in outlines of Madame Armfeldt’s property being a pleasant contact.

Hugh Wheeler’s 1973 e book has not aged in addition to Sondheim’s music, and to audiences accustomed to the extra sung-through musicals of more moderen years (together with a lot of Sondheim’s), a few of the dialogue scenes might really feel a bit sluggish. However that it’s straightforward to forgive given the vocal splendors of Reston Group Gamers’ manufacturing. Whether or not for first-time viewers or longtime Sondheim followers, the singing right here is to not be missed.

Working Time: Three hours, together with one intermission.

A Little Evening Music performs by October 30, 2022 (at 8 pm on October 15, 21, 22, 28, and 29 and at 2 pm on October 23 and 30) offered by Reston Group Gamers performing on the Reston Group Heart, 2310 Colts Neck Street, Reston, VA. Tickets ($30 for adults and $25 for juniors and seniors) could also be obtained on-line, from Reston Group Gamers at 703-476-4500, or in particular person on the Reston Group Heart’s field workplace.

The playbill for A Little Evening Music is on-line right here.

COVID Security: Masks overlaying mouth and nostril are worn by all individuals whereas contained in the Reston Group Heart no matter vaccination standing, on the request of the Reston Group Gamers.

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