A Little Night Music Earns Four Tony Nominations, Best Revival

A Little Night Music Earns Four Tony Nominations, Best Revival

It’s not only the most famous song from the Broadway musical A Little Night Music, it’s also Stephen Sondheim’s most famous song.

And like many famous songs it has a rather auspicious beginning.

In the original A Little Night Music production, the role of Desirée was created by actress Glynis Johns.

Johns was hired because she was attractive, charming, and could play light comedy. She had a nice voice but lacked the ability to sustain notes.

Due to Johns’ limitations, Sondheim wrote very little for her to sing and nothing for her to sing in the second act.

During rehearsals, director Hal Prince felt the second act needed a song for Desirée (Johns). There was only one scene where such a number could go and that scene belonged to Desirée’s former lover (i.e. it was his scene).

To compensate for Johns’ inability to sustain notes, and to meet the demands of a complex scene, Sondheim wrote a song containing short phrases and questions.

By writing the song in this manner, Johns was free and clear of sustains notes, and Desirée was able to respond, in song, to the man’s dramatic monologue.

Since Sondheim knew Johns so well he was able to write most of the song in one night; he had the entire song done in just two days.

That song was “Send in the Clowns.”


In the 2009 Broadway revival of A Little Night Music, Desirée is played by the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones.

She just received a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance. The revival also earned noms for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Performance by a Featured Actress, the great Angela Lansbury.

If Lansbury wins, it will be her record setting sixth award.

The 64th Annual Tony Awards are June 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. They will be broadcasted on CBS.

A Little Night Music’s is considered one of Sondheim’s best works. It’s based on Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night.

Set in turn of the century Sweden, A Little Night Music is a witty and passionate tale about the romantic lives of several couples.

The historic Walter Kerr Theatre sells tickets to A Little Night Music. The Kerr is located at 219 West 48th Street. There’s a matinee on Saturday and the theater is dark on Monday.

The musical runs about three hours but at times feels like four (hey, it’s Sondheim after all). Expect a stylized production, lots of frilly costumes, some dancing and plenty of laughs.

The show also stars Alexander Hanson, Aaron Lazar, and Erin Davie. The revival is directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography from Lynne Page.

The current cast is set to appear through June 20, a new cast takes over June 22. If you want to see the production with Jones and Lansbury you better hurry.

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