On Friday I made my first visit to Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Walthamstow, having heard great things about this theatre pub venue I wanted to experience it myself. What better excuse was to see All Star Productions perform a Stephen Sondheim musical that I hadn’t seen before.
Set in Sweden in the 1900s, “A Little Night Music” is all about relationships. The story centres around the liaisons of beautiful actress Desiree Armfeldt. When an old flame of hers, Fredrick Egerman turns up at the theatre, it isn’t long before their romance re-ignites driving her domineering pompous lover Count Carl-Magnus Magnum (Samuel Baker) mad with jealously.
This love triangle has further complications, the Count is married to Countess Charlotte and Frederic is also married to the young beautiful Anne but he is frustrated as she has not yet consummated their marriage.
This is a typical Sondheim show though, as well as the main storyline there are a myriad of supporting players who each have a part to play to create the story. Desiree’s mother and daughter, Fredric’s son and even the servants and neighbours take a role in developing the story which comes to a head on a ‘weekend in the country’.
Director Tim McArthur has assembled a first class cast with Sarah Waddell playing the central role of Desiree. I found her well-suited to the character with a zest for life and an infectious giggle particularly when conspiring with Alexander McMorran’s Frederic. The most iconic of all Sondheim’s songs ‘Send in the Clowns’ is sung by Desiree as she struggles to understand her and Frederic’s relationship. It was a joy to see Waddell sing the song in context with raw emotion and pathos rather than as a concert piece.
Fantastic performances are plentiful in this production, I particularly liked Jamie Birkett’s portrayal of the Countess Charlotte, her one liners were first rate.
Sondheim’s songs did not disappoint either itself, witty lyrics and complex harmonies delivered well by the entire cast of sixteen performers. I loved the whole package.
A Little Night Music has once again affirmed my love for Sondheim. The show was amazing and it certainly won’t be my last visit to the Rose and Crown Pub, all in all, it was a very successful and most enjoyable evening.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
Photo Credit : David Ovenden