A story of love gone right, after all, will be the first musical on the big stage of the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center Thursday through Sunday [FEB. 18-21] at East Central University.
The seemingly happy family of Fredrik Egerman (left, played by Ryan Corley of Shawnee) finds itself in a tangled web of romances and a few problems in "A Little Night Music," the Stephen Sondheim musical comedy playing Thursday through Sunday in East Central University's Ataloa Theatre. Fredrik has married 18-year-old Anne (played by Brittany Trail of Ada), but is drawn to a former lover, an actress. Meanwhile, Fredrik's 20-year-old son (right, played by Christopher Geisler of Newalla) has fallen madly in love with his young stepmother. Tickets are available at the Bursar's Office in ECU's Administration Building or can be reserved by calling 580-559-5226.
"A Little Night Music" tells the story of people who are in difficult situations romantically, but everything turns out well by the end of the show, said director Dr. Richard Groetzinger, assistant professor of communication.
The performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. A Sunday matinee will begin at 2 p.m. Only 500 seats will be sold for each performance. Tickets should be reserved or purchased in advance in the ECU Bursar's Office in the Administration Building, 580-559-5226.
The Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler waltz musical is set in the early 1900s in Scandinavia and is based on Ingmar Bergman's film, "Smiles of a Summer Night."
"We come onto these characters who tend to be in the wrong situation," Groetzinger said. "Desiree Armfeldt is an actress touring the country going through various lovers, including a count, a dragoon who doesn't have a lot upstairs."
That's just one part of the tangled web. One of her former lovers, lawyer Fredrik Egerman, has a naïve 18-year-old bride, Anne, but the two have yet to consummate their marriage. Meanwhile, Fredrik's 20-year-old son, Henrik, has fallen madly in love with his young stepmother.
Fredrik's dedication to his blushing bride is tested when he reunites with Desiree. Things become more complicated when the jealous, and married, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm gets wind of the reunion. Desirée convinces her mother to host Fredrik and his family for a weekend on her lavish country estate, and the count, with his wife in tow, crashes the party.
A shocked Desiree, played by Natalie May of Prague, listens to Charlotte (Jessica Pruitt of Duncan) in a scene from "A Little Night Music" which opens Thursday at East Central University. Charlotte's husband, who also is Desiree's lover, has left to play Russian roulette with Desiree's former lover in a duel over Desiree. The Stephen Sondheim musical will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center. Seats should be purchased or reserved in advance at the ECU Bursar's Office in the Administration Building or by calling 580-559-5226.
The story resembles an old-fashioned bedroom farce in which people catch people in compromising situations, said Groetzinger, who gives the production a PG-13 rating.
"The point is, the play is about love gone right. Everyone ends up with the ones they are supposed to be with," Groetzinger said. "To have people discover the error of their ways and find out what they should have known all along makes the story more interesting. They get off on the wrong track at first. We laugh with and at them."
Natalie May of Prague plays the actress, Desiree, whose 14-year-old daughter, Fredrika, has a name very similar to former lover Fredrik Egerman, played by Ryan Corley of Shawnee. Brittany Trail of Ada plays Fredrik's wife, and Fredrik's son, Henrik, will be portrayed by Christopher Geisler of Newalla. Fredrika will be played by Lynette Christy of Ada, and Kimberly Wren of Ada will portray Desiree's mother, Madame Armfeldt, a woman who made her fortune "sleeping around royalty," Groetzinger said.
"A Little Night Music" is not a typical musical, the director said. The songs are not typical show tunes, but are very complex and carry a lot of the important information for the story. Solos, duets and trios all have a lot of difficult key changes and are very intricate and verbal.
"It's not a show where people sing and dance," Groetzinger explained. "They sing OR they dance. It is all written in waltz time. You don't want to be singing and doing the waltz at the same time."
The most well-known song in the production, which opened on Broadway in 1973, is "Send in the Clowns."
The show also has a group of singers, the liebeslieders, which is like a chorus of older, more experienced people who comment on the action through their songs like a Greek chorus.
"The audience will be surprised (by the show), but I think they'll like the surprise," Groetzinger said. "I think they will be enthralled and entranced by the story. It's a fun show. There's lots of humor in it.
"It's a challenge to handle Sondheim," he said. "It's very rewarding. The students have done well. But the music is extraordinarily complex and difficult."
"I think it is a show worthy of selling out every performance," he added. "I think it will be that good."
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for senior citizens and non-ECU students. ECU faculty, staff and students will be admitted free with ECU IDs. Reserved student tickets will be held at the "will call" window in the theatre lobby and can be picked up on performance night. Tickets not reserved or purchased in advance will be sold at the box office the evening of the performance.
Also appearing in the show are Nick Geisler of Ada as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, Jessica Pruitt of Duncan as countess Charlotte Malcolm, Heath Holt of Ada as the butler, Leah Creason of Ada as Petra, Maria Fuego of Ardmore as a maid, Derek Reed of Pauls Valley as a theatre page and servant, Amy Southerland of Oklahoma City as an actress and Andrea Maschman of Wellston as an actress and a servant.
Liebeslieders are Kaleb Gordon, Ada; Caleb Bonar, Ada; Caitlin Gray, Ada; Christina Kushnick, Spiro; and Erica Poe, Ada. Waltzers are Ryan Massengale, Norman; Phoebe Price, Ardmore; Zackary Patteson, Allen, Texas; Kelsey Creed, Ada; Cody McDaniel, Sulphur; and Jade McKenzie, Ada.
Behind the scenes, Patrick Sweet, ECU director of music theatre, is the play's musical director and conductor. Choreographer is Dr. Victoria Dansby. Lauren Hathcoat is stage manager and Theo Peshhonoff is technical director.
The orchestra includes Erica Phillips, Nate Sheeley, Kayla Franco, Sarra Blok, Ashley Branscum, Derek Akers, Kyle Littlejohn, Rebekah Unruh, Susanne Woolley and Christine Ousley.
The award-winning show has been enjoying its first Broadway revival since November with Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones as Desiree and five-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt.
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