March 5, 2015

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Theatre Guild players talk “Night Music”

Waltzing their way in and out of love, actors take to the tent in the University of Massachusetts Theatre Guild’s production of “A Little Night Music.” The show premiered yesterday and runs until Saturday.

Shaina Mishkin/Collegian

The audience is given a view into the confused love lives of several couples in turn of the century Sweden. Marriage does not deter new love, as characters soon realize they may not love the ones they’re with. A crazed military dragoon and a successful lawyer compete for the love of a well-known actress, while simultaneously an 18-year-old virgin and a student of Lutheran priesthood try to make sense of their tumultuous emotions.

Originally a book by Hugh Wheeler, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, “A Little Night Music” was written in 1973 and aired on Broadway the same year. In 1977 the show was adapted for film and later revived on Broadway in 2009. Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film “Smiles of a Summer Night,” the musical also takes thematic cues from Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”

Recent UMass graduate Emma Cohen directed the musical.

“It’s about people learning how to love, and it begins with them being very confused and loving the wrong people,” said Cohen.

“It’s all about the aristocracy, and it’s kind of a farce on how silly the ‘glamorous’ life is,” said Sam Mandeville, the dramaturge for the musical, who also plays “the one and only Desiree Armfeldt” in the show.

Written almost entirely in 3/4 time, the musical pulls heavily from the waltz tradition.

“The whole thing is kind of supposed to flow like a dance, switching partners until they resolve – like music,” Cohen said.

Jason Mellin, a junior English major, plays Fredrik Egerman, a successful but weary lawyer.

“He’s sort of the catalyst for a lot of what will happen in the show,” Mellin said of Egerman. “You get the feeling that before he started he was lost for a while and thought he found a solution in Anne, but she won’t open up to him. Specifically sexually, though in a broader sense personally.”

Freshman food science major Alex Russell shared insight into her character Anne Egerman.

“Anne is a very naive, flirty girl who doesn’t understand what love is yet,” Russell said.

Junior theater major Peter Staley plays Count Carl-Magnus Malcom, a very “prideful womanizer with no self-esteem,” Staley explained.

“He’s very militaristic. He feels like he’s on the battlefield all the time,” Staley said.

The play is narrated by a quintet of vocalists called The Liebeslieder Singers.

“We’re basically like the Greek chorus of the show,” said Alan Couture, a sophomore theater major. “We sing about other characters’ feelings and what they’re thinking.”

Although their auditorium plans fell through, the UMass Theatre Guild aren’t letting a minor defeat hinder the success of their show. Performances will be held in the white tent outside of the library on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 for students and $10 for general admission.

Director Emma Cohen found the silver lining of the situation.

“The whole theme is about music and nighttime and being outside, so it’s actually kind of neat to be able to do the show outside. It’s not usually done that way.”

Justin Surgent can be reached at jsurgent@student.umass.edu.

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