Leeds Playhouse and Opera North have together created a truly stunning production, bringing A Little Night Music to the stage with glorious direction, stunning staging and wonderful performances.
The show follows three families as they navigate love, betrayal and the fate of life. It’s a thoughtful show and the cast perform it magnificently. There are love triangles, family dramas and conflicts that hold the audience in the grip of the plot through to the very end.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, the material is already there ready and waiting to be delivered to the adoring audience. Send in the Clowns is perhaps the most popular song from the show, and it’s clear to see why. It’s such a poignant moment performed brilliantly by Stephanie Corley.
Corley in many respects steals the show. She holds the audience’s attention well, playing the character of the powerful actress Desiree. Her main love interest Frederik is performed by Quirijn de Lang. He provides the perfect blend between vulnerable, comical and naïve. This works well with the much more serious, and almost antagonistic, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm played by Christopher Nairne.
The incredible Dame Josephine Barstow plays matriarch Madame Armfeldt and is an inspiration to us all. I don’t know many performers able to wow audiences for so many years. She’s just one of many strong women holding the stage, with Helen Évora playing Count Malcolm’s long-suffering wife brilliantly. Her voice is stunning and she strikes a lovely balance between powerful and bitchy and hilariously outraged.
It almost goes without saying that the cast sing beautifully, and the more choral numbers particularly pack a punch as the operatic nature of the piece works beautifully performed by a bigger cast of opera singers. Director James Brining brings in a lovely chorus group who act as narrators throughout the piece. This is a lovely device and draws the audience into the story with ease.
The Orchestra of Opera North accompany the piece, and it’s magical to see live music strike up once again. There’s something particularly powerful about a full orchestra – it is a shame the audience is only able to see the orchestra for just a few minutes at the beginning of each act as it would have been lovely to watch the musicians throughout.
Leeds Playhouse have done a great job of making people feel safe. Every safety measure has been put in place: contact tracing, temperature checks, one way systems, plenty of staff on hand to help… you name it, they’re doing it. Hats off to everyone who’s made the theatre so safe! If you’re thinking of giving live entertainment a go, I’d certainly recommend this socially-distanced production.
The show runs until 17th July – visit the Leeds Playhouse website to book your tickets.