Photo by Eric Melzer
Mu Performing Arts' "A Little Night Music"
Fredrik Egerman, the lead character in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, is decidedly Swedish. But that isn’t stopping Rick Shiomi from staging the musical about the sexually frustrated Swede for Mu Performing Arts, whose mission is to turn out great performances that tap into the Asian American experience.
“I have realized that I have a certain affinity and joy for Sondheim,” says Shiomi, who went down a similar road when he staged a stellar production of Into the Woods two years ago. He gave that fairy-tale musical a trans-Asian setting. The Asian experience will come through in another way this time around.
“We are not setting this one anywhere in Asia,” he says. “We are leaving it set in Scandinavia at the turn of the 20th century.” Just like the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, on which it is based.
The story spins a web of romantic dysfunction revolving around the middle-aged Egerman, who is in an unconsummated marriage to a much younger bride. “There was an interest in all things Asian at that time, and we play off that, with a lot of Asian touches,” he says.
Shiomi has cast the same top-notch Mu players in the lead roles as he did for Into the Woods. Mu artistic director Randy Reyes plays Egerman; Sheena Janson plays famous actress Desiree Armfeldt, who is in love with Egerman. It should be pretty rich when she sings “Send in the Clowns” in the second act. July 25–Aug. 10. Park Square Theatre, 20 7th Place W., St. Paul, 651-291-7005