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ECU Opera Theater presents "A Little Night Music"

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Madame Armfeldt (portrayed by Jordan Cartrette) and Fredrika Armfeldt (Bridget Fex) contemplate life on a summer evening.

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By Mackenzie Tewksbury
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 16, 2018

A tale of two lovers, set in Sweden, will come to the stage tonight as East Carolina University Opera Theater presents “A Little Night Music” for its fall performance.

“A Little Night Music,” written by author Hugh Wheeler with music by Stephen Sondheim, is a love story that follows traveling actress Desirée Armfeldt and a man who loves her, Fredrik Egerman.

To co-director Daniel Shirley, the story is about living in the moment.

“It’s a really charming, elegant show. It’s hilarious dialogue with classic songs,” he said. “’A Little Night Music’ reminds us to take advantage of the moments in life that present themselves and to let ourselves fall in love fully.”

The piece features classic and popular songs from theatre, including Sondheim’s most famous piece, “Send in the Clowns.” The show is not technically an opera — it’s more of a musical — but Shirley said his student’s voices lent themselves well to the score and they decided to tackle it. He said it is the perfect show for people experiencing their first opera.

“If you’ve never seen an opera before in your life, this is the perfect time to take advantage of this art form because the show is just so approachable, charming and enjoyable,” he said.

The performers, who total 32 people, are broken up into two separate casts. Shirley said he and his co-director, John Kramar, worked with each cast simultaneously so each actor could learn and grow and better perform their scenes.

“I don’t direct one cast separately from the other,” he said. “When I’m directing a scene, I call both casts to work on the scene so they can each get the experience.”

Shirley was drawn to the play because of the opportunities it presented for his student singer actors. Specifically, the two main characters, Fredrick and Desiree, who are portrayed by ECU seniors William Edwards and Sophia Odiorne.

“They are just completely wonderful in these roles,” he said. “I am astounded by their talents and professionalism.”

Shirley said he hopes the audience finds a piece of happiness after seeing this show.

“I hope that they leave happily and holding the hand (of their) significant other a little tighter,” he said.

Contact Mackenzie Tewksbury at mtewksbury@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

If you go

ECU Opera Theater will present “A Little Night Music,” by Stephen Sondheim, at 7:30 p.m today-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday at Turnage Theater, 150 W. Main St., Washington, N.C. This romantic comedy, which includes the classic song “Send in the Clowns,” features a tangled web of involvements with many twists and turns. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $15 for seniors and ECU faculty/​staff and $5 for students. Call 946-2504.

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