The University of Sydney Musical Theatre Ensemble (MUSE) presents their 2015 major production, A Little Night Music. Winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score, the musical has been revived eight times both on Broadway and the West End, with a film adaption starring Elizabeth Taylor. A Little Night Music is best remembered for the bitterly poignant Send in the Clowns, a song that reflects the ironies and disappointments of life.
Based on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, the musical is a glimpse into the shadowy, illusory world of romance, with little basis in reality. The characters are in perpetual motion, exchanging partners at will, with no profound alteration. Book writer, Hugh Wheeler, recreates from the Bergman original a world in which the mystical influence of the night’s smile hovers over all. The action of the piece is delineated in the three smiles of the summer night; “smiles at the young who know nothing, at the fools who know too little and at the old who know too much.” A Little Night Music follows a muddle of beautiful people living in a realm removed from the humdrum banality of the daily grind, underpinned by the lustiness and unrestrained passion of their servants.
Adding to Stephen Sondheim’s repertoire, A Little Night Music extends the composer’s experimentation in form and craft. Sondheim explores human folly with musical numbers that relate to the total mood and tone of the piece in varying shades of the same colour, conveying struggles and confusion as the characters wrestle with unexpressed and misunderstood desires.
A Little Night Music marks MUSE’s ninth year of theatre making. The society offers university students the opportunity to create, perform in and learn about performance in addition to their academic studies. Students rehearse in their free time and are solely responsible for every aspect of performance, from production to design to marketing.