Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: A Little Night Music at the Palace Theatre



A Little Night Music In Concert
Palace Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 26th January 2015
★★★★

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about A Little Night Music that makes it such a special show. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, it is glorious from start to finish with quirky moments and a peaceful edge. Sondheim's score glides along - you're never quite sure where it's going to go next - whilst Hugh Wheeler's book is written with strength and wit.

Marking forty years since A Little Night Music received its West End premiere, last night (26th January) Alastair Knights directed a truly special semi-staged one-off concert performance of the musical. The stellar cast of West End talent may have been clutching scripts, but took the stage with pride and joy.

Everyone is given their time to shine, and there was not a weak link in the cast who seemed to enjoy every second. It was the leading ladies who particularly shone; Sondheim and Wheeler's show features some magnificently feisty female roles.

Anne Reid was tremendous as Madame Armfeldt, the delivery of her one-liners was hysterical whilst the always marvellous Joanna Riding meant serious business as Countess Charlotte Malcolm - she brought the house down on several occasions.

Stepping into the role of Desiree Armfeldt was Janie Dee who was faced with the task of performing A Little Night Music's most iconic number, 'Send In The Clowns'. When the anticipated moment came Dee gave a suitably gentle and delicate rendition; she acted the song beautifully. 

A mention must also go to Laura Pitt-Pulford (Petra) whose rendition of 'The Miller's Son' blew me away. It's hard to think of another comparable song - to say it's tricky would be quite an understatement, but Pitt-Pulford certainly rose to the challenge, fully committed and poured her heart out; I found her performance absolutely enthralling. 

As I was seated in the back rows of the balcony I rarely caught a glimpse of the cast until the final half hour when the party in front of me walked out. Whilst it was a shame to miss the majority of the performance, it meant I ended up watching the stunning 25-piece orchestra (who were positioned at the back of the stage) for most the evening which turned out to be quite a treat. Under the direction of the unstoppable Alex Parker, the musicians sounded divine.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Read our interviews with Janie Dee and Laura Pitt-Pulford

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

2 comments:

  1. Did you really just write a review of a show you could hardly see?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      When you are invited to review a show you have no control over where the producers decide to seat you. Sitting at the back of the balcony wasn't ideal; however, I did my best to engage with the piece and take it all in with an open mind (the critic next to me was very unhappy about the situation). It was a very special evening!

      All the best,
      Andrew

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