Yes, A Little Night Music again, but with Catherine Zeta-Jones…
…but without Angela Lansbury.
Oh, how we agonised over this one. To see or not to see? We’d already loved the Menier production, could its Broadway incarnation match up? Could we ever get over the fact Ms Lansbury had decided to take her 2 week vacation just as the Whingers arrived in New York?
Well yes and no.
Sitting in a weekday matinee, there were plenty of Lansburys there. In fact the genuine Lansbury’s presence might even have dropped the average age of the auditorium a tad. It was like sitting amongst the cast of Cocoon, all chatting away before and throughout the show, but managing to keep up just enough and applauding Zeta-Jones’ first appearance.
We had already been told CZJ’s performance is “phenomenal”. But then eveything here is “phenomenal” or “awesome”. The Broadway channel describes every show as “The biggest smash hit on Broadway”.
We thought CZJ had wonderful stage presence and is charmingly still quite Welsh at times. We thought Hannah Waddingham had the edge over CZJ both musically and humorously but we’re not complaining.
She does look quite ravishing, but then so does the whole production, and it’s musically luscious from the off. And if the role of Madame Armfeldt seemed larger than we remembered, as if rubbing our noses in the fact it wasn’t Lansbury it was compensated for by everything else being most agreeable.
We were particularly wowed by Alexander Hanson who is even better than he was originally (and he was brilliant). And there was some outstanding support from Leigh Anne Larkin as Petra the maid and Erin Davie as the Countess Charlotte Malcolm and Aaron Lazar as the Dragoon and Ramona Mallory as Anne and… well, everyone really. Very solid.
Surprsingly, it really does work very well on Broadway. The set is a bit more complicated than the Menier version and there were things we simply couldn’t recall: did the Dragoon throw a fruit knife into a painting in Southwark? He did at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Highly satisfactory.
Usher officiousness factor: Pleasingly low
Ovationage: 10% (Very low but then the audience demographic may have played a part)
From what we’ve heard about Lansbury’s performance it would have been a five, but even without her it’s a 4.