Prairie Fire Theatre is stepping in to fill that need with a new production of A Little Night Music, the waltzing, romantic and cynical musical adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's enchanting 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night. Prairie Fire's Night Music opens August 2 and runs through August 11.
In both the original Swedish film and the Sondheim/Wheeler stage musical, the story revolves around an actress named Desiree Armfeldt and her romantic life. Desiree is trying to deal with the sudden reappearance of her ex-lover, a lawyer named Fredrik Egerman, who has a much younger wife, virginal Anne, as well fend off her current lover, a military man named Carl-Magnus, who is more than a bit of a hothead. Adding complications to this love triangle -- or square, or possibly hexagon -- are a few extra folks like Fredrik's son and Carl-Magnus's wife.
In A Little Night Music, Desiree Armfeldt gets one of Sondheim's most famous, most beautiful songs -- "Send in the Clowns" -- as this story, of mismatched lovers taking a trip to the country during an endless summer night, unwinds. "Send in the Clowns" may have gotten most of the press, but the rest of Sondheim's score is equally wonderful, regretful, sweet and wry, as Desiree sings about her "Glamorous Life," her mother reminisces about her own "Liaisons," Carl-Magnus's unhappy wife Charlotte duets with Anne on "Every Day a Little Death," the company prepares for "A Weekend in the Country," and Fredrik, Anne and Fredrik's son Henrik lament whether "Now," "Later," or "Soon" is the right time to make a move.
For Prairie Fire Theatre, this "musical tapestry of comedy, affairs of the heart, and bittersweet romance" is directed by Rhys Lovell, with Cristen Susong as the delightful Desiree, Caroline McKinzie as her daughter, and Uretta Lovell as her mother, the wise and wily Madame Armfeldt who is watching out for the evening sky to "smile." Joe Penrod will play lawyer Egerman, Emily Honzel takes the role of his wife Anne, and Sean Leeds rounds out the Egerman family as his gloomy son Henrik. Bob Mangialardi will portray the martinet Count Carl-Magnus, with Lyndsay Byers as his wife Charlotte.
A Little Night Music will be performed at the Illinois Wesleyan University Memorial Center on August 2, 3 and 4 and 9, 10 and 11, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. You can see the entire cast list here, along with a link to buy tickets. If you prefer to reserve by phone, you can dial 309-824-3047 for reservations.