November 8, 2010
Send in the Clowns
Over the weekend I saw the Bowdoin College production of Stephen Sondheim's musical play, A Little Night Music. I had never seen the play before and shortly fell in love with the unbalanced, romantic, lavish frivolity of Sondheim's score and use of plot from Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film, Smiles of Summer.
The score is in 3/4 time and quite jovial for one's ears. At the center of the plot, the actress Desiree Armfeldt must choose between two lovers during a weekend in the Swedish countryside, where both lovers bring their families to stay at Desiree's mother, Madame Armfeldt's, house. The show is currently running on Broadway (the picture above is the initial cast that included the incomparable Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt and Catharine Zeta-Jones as Desiree).
Much of the music has a waltz theme to it, which I just adore. I believe I was born in the wrong time - I could happily spend my days dressed in resplendent Victorian gowns and attending balls where dancing the waltz with a well-suited, dashing young man is in vogue.
Despite my enjoyment, the play did bring tears to my eyes, especially the rendition of that famous song, "Send in the Clowns," which Desiree sings toward the end as she contemplates on the ramifications of her life choices, somewhat lamenting her lonely, indecisive state. I saw parts of myself in her character at that juncture. I wasn't the only one to be so moved as a New York Times writer expressed his emotion over Sondheim's plays in yesterday's paper.
The Bowdoin kids did a splendid job putting on the play and it made me wish I had done theater in school. Perhaps, once I settle into the next stage of my life, I will find a playhouse that allows members of the community to audition. I would so love to play Desiree or maybe Julie from Showboat or Laurie from Oklahoma!
Source: Broadway.com (image found here).