‘A Little Night Music’ begins rehearsals at the Players Guild

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Photo by Sue Suchyta
Director Harold Jurkiewicz (right) addresses the Players Guild of Dearborn cast of “A Little Night Music” at the initial read-through March 7.

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By SUE SUCHYTA
If you love Broadway musicals, two Tony award-winners are at a theater near you: “The Book of Mormon” is filling the Fisher Theatre with laughter, and “A Little Night Music” has launched an intense rehearsal schedule at the Players Guild of Dearborn under the gifted direction of Harold Jurkiewicz to prepare for a late April opening of a four-weekend run.

The Guild recently announced the cast for “A Little Night Music,” which runs Friday through Sunday from April 26 to May 19.

Friday and Saturday shows are 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees.

For tickets and more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

Middle-aged lawyer Fredrik Egerman takes his young still-virgin bride, Anne, to a play starring his former middle-aged mistress, Desiree Armfeldt, who then rekindles the affair. This stirs anger among not only her current lover, Count Malcolm, but from Malcom’s wife, Charlotte, and from Anne. Meanwhile, Fredrik’s son Henrik is in love with Anne.

The couples collide in a weekend party at the country estate of Madame Armfeldt, Desiree’s mother, who is raising Desiree’s daughter, Fredrika.

Petra, a lusty maid, and Frid, a ready-to-serve butler add to the salacious mix.

The cast includes Tom Murphy as Frederik Egerman, Lindsay MacDonald as Anne Egerman, Michael Suchyta as Henrik Egerman and Chelsea Burke as Petra.

Brett Reynolds will play Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, with Valerie Haas as Countess Charlotte Malcolm and Sally Hart Goodman as Desiree Armfeldt.

Jade Reynolds portrays Fredrika Armfeldt, with Diana Reynolds as Madame Armfeldt, Kerry Plague as Frid and Corrine Fine as Osa.

The Liebeslieder Singers include Shardai Davis, Brian Townsend, Jillian Drapala, Julie Ballantyne Brown and Mark Byars.

The chorus features Jeremiah Boglin, Tim Carney, Dana Welsh, Diane Cliff, Deborah Lavely, Mark Ripper, Inez Hernandez and Takesha Walker.

Jurkiewicz said he loves the show and took time off to direct it over the next seven weeks. He said his cast is wonderful, and that they have their homework cut out for them.

“It’s really a big undertaking,” Jurkiewicz said. “The book part is very easy. It’s the music – (music director) Paul Abbott has the hardest part of that because the music is crucial and it’s very difficult.”

The Michigan Opera Theatre performed the musical in 1983 and in 2009, and was the first major American opera company to present the work.

Jurkiewicz chose scenic designer Jennifer Maiseloff, who has a master’s degree in set design at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, to design the dreamlike set.

“I like Ingmar Bergman, so I’m using his film ‘Smiles of a Summer Night,’ going back to that Swedish film more than anything to capture that essence of the show,” Jurkiewicz said.

He said the show is full of love, lust and intrigue. He was entranced by the original set design, costumes and performances when he saw the show in 1973 in the original Tony Award-winning Broadway version starring Glynis Johns (as Desiree Armfeldt), Len Cariou (as Fredrik Egerman), Hermione Gingold (as Madame Armfeldt), Patricia Elliott (as Charlotte) and Laurence Guittard (as Count Malcolm).

Goodman said “A Little Night Music” is an under-performed, beautiful show.

“I like the intricacy of Sondheim,” Goodman said. “As a fully grown adult woman, this is a really good role. Desiree has very interesting qualities to her. She has made some interesting choices in her life, and I find them interesting.”

Diana and Jade Reynolds, who are grandmother and granddaughter in real life, are excited to be mirroring that relationship onstage as Madame Armfeldt and Fredrika.

“I’ve had several highlights in my life, but I can’t think of one that would top this,” Diana Reynolds said. “As soon as I realized that there was a grandmother-granddaughter role I just hoped and prayed that we would be grandmother (and) granddaughter on stage.”

Jade is the fourth generation of the Reynolds family to be a member of the Guild, which celebrates its 85th anniversary this season. Her late great-grandfather Gene Reynolds was the first Reynolds to join the Guild.

Patricia LaFramboise is looking forward to costuming the show, which she did about 20 years ago for Nancy Gurwin’s production at the Jewish Community Center. She said this time she has a bigger budget.

“This is a very huge show,” LaFramboise said. “It is rich folks in 1900s Sweden, and it’s long dresses and waistcoats and lots of lace and feathers and lots of glitz. I am looking forward to that. It’s the kind of show I love to do.”

‘BOOK OF MORMON’ FILLS FISHER WITH LAUGHTER
From the creators of “South Park” and “Avenue Q” comes an irreverent, raunchy and very funny Tony Award-winning musical, “The Book of Mormon,” which runs through March 24 at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit.

When two earnest but naïve young Mormon missionaries land in Uganda, they encounter a violent and impoverished land where the natives flip the bird to their own deity and have no use for another round of missionaries.

However, the irreverent and humorous hands of Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone cleverly satirize the absurdities of the scenario.

The effervescent talent of Mark Evans as Elder Price, Christopher O’Neill as Elder Cunningham and Samantha Marie Ware as Nabulungi lead the energetic and polished company.

The show is very original and funny, but is definitely not for children or those easily offended.

Scott Pask’s scenic design is incredible and versatile, and Ann Roth’s costume design earns high praise.

While the language is profane and the action adult, the show is also funny and heart-warming, and you will laugh aloud and root for the characters. You will find yourself thoroughly enjoying the story, and genuinely surprised at some of the twists and turns that the script takes.
Remaining shows are sold out; however, a pre-show lottery at the box office will make 20 tickets per performance available for $29 each. Also, tickets may be made available closer to showtime.

For more information, go to www.BookofMormonTheMusical.com and www.BroadwayInDetroit.com.

‘GODSPELL’ SELECTIONS FEATURED AT PALM SUNDAY SERVICE
Local youth will perform select songs from “Godspell” at 10 a.m. March 24 at Dearborn Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, at 16350 Rotunda Drive in Dearborn, to retell the story of Christ, based on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Featured songs include “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “Save the People,” “Day by Day,” “All Good Gifts,” “By My Side,” “Light of the World” and “On the Willows.”

The youth performers, drawn from area churches, include AnnaLyssia Abela, Nathan Booth, Dashiell, Dominic, Liliana and Scout Greimel, Ian and Cole Haas, Nathaniel Hermen, Lexie and Madelyn Kaplan and Michael Suchyta.

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