This spring’s romantic comedy, a Stephen Sondheim classic, “A Little Night Music” will be the first musical since 2012 to be performed in the Fine Arts Center.
“There’s an ample amount of sex jokes so I think it will suffice for most college students,” said senior Jake Clarke, who is starring as Frederik, one of the main characters.
Sondheim is known for his witty lyrics, complicated wordplay and scores that provide challenges for actors and musicians alike in shows such as “Into the Woods,” “Company” and “Gypsy.”
Director Paula McGlasson has a deep love for Sondheim. The last Sondheim show she directed at URI, “Company,” was in the fall semester of 2012, which also was the last time a URI musical was performed in J Studio.
While it’s been a long time since McGlasson acted in musicals, she does have a special connection to the show. About 40 years ago, McGlasson starred in the show as Desiree, a role that will be played in this production by junior Emily Carter.
“I have a very vague memory of adoring the whole experience,” McGlasson said of playing Desiree.
Clarke also found himself connected to the show through his character Frederik.
“I don’t think me and Frederik are far off from each other,” Clarke said. “He’s a thinker, he leads from his head so I really connect with him through that. In the show, you see him lead with his heart. He’s established as the thinker, then you see him move past that. It’s a great thing to experience that because I too then have to move into that emotional side with him.”
Sophomore Lauren Jannetti said that playing her character, Petra, has a been a new experience as Petra is “just so fun and carefree.”
A highlight of the character for Jannetti is her solo song, “The Miller’s Song.” Jannetti, Clarke and McGlasson are all in agreement that Sondheim’s music in the show is a beautiful challenge.
“It’s just a challenge to any singer,” McGlasson said. “It’s more than just hitting notes, it’s getting out all those lyrics because the lyrics contain so much about your character. It’s a gift to the actor to be able to work on that type of piece and a gift to the audience to be able to hear it.”
Clarke doesn’t describe himself as a musical theatre actor, but still finds the difficult music and the plot to be beautiful.
“You want to raise to the level of the music because you want to give the audience the full potential of what the music has to offer,” Clarke said. “There’s no magic in the show per say, but it’s magical, watching these people discover who they are and who they are supposed to be with.”
Outside of the music, another challenge is that instead of being performed in the much larger Robert E. Will Theatre, “A Little Night Music” will be performed in the much smaller and more intimate J Studio.
“It’s made very different kind of demands for me as a director for staging the piece,” McGlasson said. “It’s very different when an audience member is literally three feet away from you.”
Being that the show is a comedy, their goal is for the audience to laugh and have fun which Clarke thinks is what people need right now.
“I hope [the audience] will laugh and that they are touched by the love that the characters have for each other,” McGlasson said.“A Little Night Music” has performances in J Studio at 7:30 p.m. on from April 18 to 20 and April 25 to 27 with a final 2:30 p.m. matinee performance on April 28. Tickets can be purchased at the door or on the theater department’s website.