Graduation show chosen

Although most Yale students will not be on-campus to see this fat lady sing, “A Little Night Music” will cap off the 2006-’07 campus theater season during Commencement weekend.

The show, which typically attracts graduating seniors and their families rather than current students, was selected this weekend by the Yale University Dramatic Association board. It was chosen over proposals for “Cabaret” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and will be directed by Ethan Heard ’07 while Chris Holownia ’07 will serve as music director.

Actors perform during “Sideshow,” last year’s Commencement Musical, which will be “A Little Night Music” this year.
Actors perform during “Sideshow,” last year’s Commencement Musical, which will be “A Little Night Music” this year.

Eve Burstein ’08, secretary of the Dramat’s Executive Board, said the board considered issues of content, budget and potential popularity when making the choice.

“We had three very strong proposals this year,” she said. “We wanted to do all of them.”

Adapted from an Ingmar Bergman film called “Smiles of a Summer Night,” the musical follows a web of romantic entanglements among a lawyer, his virgin wife, an actress, a military man, a divinity student and his stepmother. Nearly all of the music in the show is written in waltz time, and it is frequently performed as an operetta.

“It’s a fairly well-known show with absolutely gorgeous music,” Dramat President Emmett Zackheim ’08 said. “It’s got a family-oriented story. The music is also very challenging in a very great way.”

But theater studies major Eric Kubo ’07 said he thought “A Little Night Music” was not the best possible choice for Commencement because the show lacks the emotional appeal of most popular musicals.

“I don’t really care for [the show]. It’s so intellectual — I don’t have much of a visceral reaction to it,” he said. “They talk about wanting a show with commercial appeal, but ‘A Little Night Music’ doesn’t have it.”

Dramat associate board member Lily Rothman ’08, who stood in for an absent executive board member during the deliberations, said although Sondheim’s work may not be the typical choice for Commencement, the decision was influenced by the proposal’s other strengths.

“It’s going to be a good show that people will want to see,” she said.

Zackheim said Sondheim’s works — which include “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “Company” — are always popular choices because he is a recognizable name. Burstein said although “Music” lacks the name recognition of other Sondheim works, she believes the production will be a success.

“If we market it to its strengths — beautiful music, hysterical book and lyrics, a great story — people will definitely want to see it,” she said.

Zackheim said that “A Little Night Music” is well-suited for the multi-generational audience typical for the Commencement Musical. Though the play contains material about relationships, he said he is confident that the material is appropriate for the entire family.

“[The sexual content] is dealt with in a mature, sort of veiled sense. It’s not blatant or ‘in your face’ or offputting,” he said.

Most of the preparation and rehearsal for the show will take place during the 10 days between final exams and Commencement.

“It’s an intense experience. We work around the clock,” Burstein said.

There will be four performances of “A Little Night Music,” beginning Friday, May 25 and running through Sunday, May 27. Tickets to the show can be reserved at the Dramat’s Web site beginning in two weeks.

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