SBC News

'A Little Night Music' Hits the Stage at Sweet Briar, Tickets on Sale Oct. 2
September 22, 2006

The comedic operetta that launched Stephen Sondheim's haunting hit "Send in the Clowns" will be performed at Sweet Briar College Oct. 12 through 15 in the Murchison Lane Auditorium at Babcock Fine Arts Center.

Directed by William Kershner, SBC professor of theater, "A Little Night Music" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 through Saturday, Oct. 14, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15. The Sunday matinee will be sign interpreted.

Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, the musical tells the story of a lawyer and his young wife who, despite their yearlong matrimony, have yet to consummate the marriage. The lawyer is subsequently re-smitten with an old flame, who is having an affair with a married, and jealous, military man. To further complicate this love quadrangle, the lawyer's son - a budding clergyman - is in love with his stepmother.

Sondheim's complicated musical score is waltz-like, with much of it written in 3/4 time.
In addition to "Send in the Clowns," the soundtrack includes, among others, "The Glamorous Life," "You Must Meet My Wife," "Every Day a Little Death," "Liaisons," "In Praise of Women," "A Weekend in the Country" and "The Miller's Son."

Loretta Wittman, SBC associate professor of theater and the production's choreographer, said tackling Sondheim's compositions wasn't easy. "It is a most ambitious project for Sweet Briar College," she said. "Not only is it Sondheim - his music is always very challenging - but it is one of his most sophisticated musicals."

For example, in "A Weekend in the Country" each character's concerns are expressed in their own melody line. "In the end all of the melody lines [are] combined to create this wonderful cacophony of music," Wittman said.

Kershner agreed. "This is quite a challenging play," he said, adding that the music is "difficult" and requires "performers with great skill."

Troy Mearkle is music director for the production. A music teacher in the Lynchburg City Schools, Mearkle also served as music director for SBC's 2004 production of "Tintypes."

Scenes were designed by Cheryl Warnock, SBC assistant professor of theater. "We intend to emphasize the elegance of the surface appearances, and try to make everything as smooth as possible," Kershner said during the planning stages of the production. "We will use only a few props and furniture pieces, but those will be quite elegant."

Seating is reserved and tickets go on sale Monday, Oct. 2. Tickets are free for SBC community members; non-SBC prices are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children younger than 12. Due to some adult situations, however, the play is not recommended for younger audiences.

In addition, tickets for the opening night performance are free for all area students and teachers. Also, at 6 p.m. on Oct. 12, SBC Dean Jonathan Green will present a pre-show lecture in the Johnson Dining Room at Prothro. The cost of dinner is $6.75 for the public and $5.50 for SBC faculty and staff.

For information or reservations, call 381-6120. Reservations also can be requested via e-mail to

- By Suzanne Ramsey, SBC staff writer