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A Little Night Music transfers to the West End

Hannah Waddingham as Desiree Armfeldt

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE MENIER Chocolate Factory’s sell out production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music will transfer to the West End’s Garrick Theatre for a strictly limited season – from April 7 (previews from March 28) to July 25, 2009.

Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 Swedish film Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music is set in Sweden at the turn of the century and focuses on the romantic lives of several couples. The music is written almost entirely in waltz time and includes the songs Send in the Clowns, Every Day a Little Death, The Miller’s Son and A Weekend in the Country.

Trevor Nunn directs a cast led by Hannah Waddingham (as Desiree), Maureen Lipman (Madame Armfeldt), Alexander Hanson (Fredrik), Kelly Price (Countess Charlotte Malcolm) and Jessie Buckley (Anne Egerman).

Waddingham was last seen on the London stage in Monty Python’s Spamalot, in which she created the role of the Lady of the Lake in the West End. She stayed with the show for more than a year before taking on the role in the Broadway production. Her other stage credits include Lautrec, The Beautiful Game and Tonight’s The Night.

Lipman’s numerous West End theatre credits include Candida, See How They Run, Lost in Yonkers, The Sisters Rosensweig, Wonderful Town, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Oklahoma!, Peggy For You and Glorious, as well as her one woman shows Re: Joyce and Live and Kicking.

Hanson’s many musical theatre credits include We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Enter the Guardsman (Donmar Warehouse), Sunset Boulevard (Adelphi Theatre), Aspects of Love (Chichester Festival Theatre and West End), Candide (National Theatre), A Little Night Music (Piccadilly Theatre), The Sound of Music (London Palladium) and, most recently, Marguerite (Theatre Royal Haymarket), for which he has received an Olivier nomination for his performance as Otto.

Price’s previous West End musical credits include Guys and Dolls (as Sarah Brown) alongside Patrick Swayze and Adam Cooper; Mamma Mia! (as Sophie); Desperately Seeking Susan (as Roberta) and Chicago (as Roxie Hart).

Buckley was the youngest contestant in BBC TV’s I’d Do Anything but in the final, lost out to Jodie Prenger who won the coveted role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s revival of Oliver! Since then she has performed in various concerts across the UK and Ireland, most recently Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s birthday tribute concert in Hyde Park.

The West End cast will also include John Addison (Mr Erlanson), Laura Armstrong (Mrs Anderssen), Lynden Edwards (Mr Lindquist), Kaisa Hammarlund (Petra), Alistair Robins (Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm), Nicola Sloane (Mrs Segstrom) and Gabriel Vick (Henrik Egerman). Holly Hallam and Grace Link will alternate the role of Fredrika Armfeldt.

A Little Night Music – featuring a score by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler – originally opened in 1973 at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre with a cast that included Glynis Johns (Desiree), Len Cariou (Fredrik) and Hermione Gingold (Madame Armfeldt). Directed by Harold Prince, it went on to win six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The Menier Chocolate Factory production has musical supervision by Caroline Humphris, set and costume design by David Farley, choreography by Lynne Page, orchestrations by Jason Carr, lighting by Hartley TA Kemp and sound by Gareth Owen. It will be presented in the West End by David Babani for Chocolate Factory Productions, Andrew Fell and Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres.

Since it opened in 2004 under the direction of Artistic Director David Babani, six Menier Chocolate Factory productions have transferred to the West End – Fully Committed, Sunday in the Park with George, Little Shop of Horrors, Dealer’s Choice and, most recently, Maria Friedman Re-Arranged and La Cage aux Folles, which is currently playing at the Playhouse Theatre.

A Little Night Music completes its run at the Menier Chocolate Factory on March 8, 2009.

A Little Night Music Gallery