Review – A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Walter Kerr Theatre

Friday 16 April 2010

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)

Rating

From what we’ve heard about Lansbury’s performance it would have been a five, but even without her it’s a 4.

Rating score 4-5 full-bodied

7 Responses to “Review – A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Walter Kerr Theatre”

  1. Dickie and Butch Says:

    Thanks for the review. We saw this in December just before Christmas and generally agree with everything you’ve written, although we were lucky enough to see Ms. Lansbury. The audience were all very old on our visit, but were impeccably behaved.

    Agree on Hannah Waddingham being far better than the beautiful Zeta-Jones, also agree that if anything, Alex Hanson is EVEN better in it post-transfer, which is saying something.

    Few points, we didn’t enjoy Leigh Ann Larkin as Petra as much as the (always excellent) Kaisa Hammarlund from the West End and we’re not sure about the Menier, but at the Garrick the bit with the fruit knife was in.

    How was Angie’s understudy please?

  2. Prickleandgoo Says:

    Yep, the fruit knife stunt was in the show at the Chocolate Factory!

  3. webcowgirl Says:

    Hee hee hee hee *snerk*

  4. Chiara Says:

    Yes indeed, Count Magnus throws a knife in the eye of the girl in the painting both at Menier and at the Garrick.

  5. JohnnyFox Says:

    I definitely preferred Leigh Ann Larkin’s ‘I Will Marry the Miller’s Son’ although La Hammerlund did it quite creditably.

    And LAL was June in the Patti LuPone ‘Gypsy’.

    • Dickie and Butch Says:

      “La Hammarlund” – love it. Quality performer, very underrated, we love her. Larkin was fine of course, but you can’t really beat a blonde Swede playing a Swedish nymphet!

  6. Patrick Brightman Says:

    So glad you saw this. There are really exceptional performances in this production. I agree – Hansen is much better than he was in London, possibly because he does not have the tiresome Jessie Buckley to play opposite. And CZJ really plays to and with him, something I am not sure La Waddingham ever did. I found CZJ impossibly beautiful and completely believable as a very bad actress, a voracious lover and a devoted mother.

    The surprise for me was Henrik – he was fabulous in NY, and the only one I can ever remember (from any recording or live performance) who could so effortlessly sing the notes. And genuinely funny, his father’s son and just, well, complete. Not to mention ludicrously good looking. The Petra and the Countess were, for me, streets better than the English equivalents, although I would have said each of those were better than excellent. And it was so delicious to have a Carl Magnus played properly, looking properly beautiful and singing like a God. Those fake scars and that fabulous musical joke at the end of his song – hilarious! Lansbury, for me, was no better or worse than La Lipman, but, dear God, she knows how to wring out a laugh – and how to cover a mistake. She must have got half the lyrics wrong in Liasions, but covered like the extraordinary performer she is.

    The whole thing seemed much sexier on Broadway too – somehow there was a definite “No Sex Please, We’re British” feel to many of the London performances. It really is a gorgeous production of a wonderful musical.

    I hope the rumours that Nunn will do Follies are true!

    Go see Promises Promises!


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