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Sexy Time 

The guys and gals are on the prowl in A Little Night Music

There are many dandy reasons to have sex — and most of them are elucidated in one form or another in A Little Night Music, now being produced by the Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory in Mayfield.

Set in 1900 Sweden, the play is highlighted by Stephen Sondheim's intricate score and piercingly witty lyrics. And the FPAC players give them fine voice, even as the production itself sometimes feels off-kilter.

Sex is the core of this story, which was inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night. In these intimate relationships, three never seems to be a crowd.

The triangles begin assembling when aging actress Desiree Armfelt spies her old lover, Fredrik Egerman, in an audience one night. Soon, Fred sneaks out on his still-virginal wife Anne and makes some whoopee with Desiree — until they are interrupted by glowering Count Malcolm, who is cheating on his wife with Desiree as well.

Woven into this libidinous mix is Fredrick's son Henrik (a nicely repressed Luke Wehner), who is pining for Anne. Meanwhile, he is being pursued by the family maid Petra (played by Natalie Green with randy mischievousness).

Director Fred Sternfeld and musical director David Williams have stocked their cast with fine singers, so most of Sondheim's songs click along splendidly. This emphasis on music is reflected in Trad A. Burns' set: parchment-colored walls inscribed with hand-written musical compositions. While handsome, the set quickly turns into wallpaper. A large center turntable is a handy metaphor for the round-robin sexual games, but it makes a lot of noise while rotating.

As Desiree, Tracee Patterson plays the brisk repartee with professional precision. Still, there is sadness at her core, which blossoms eventually in the deeply rueful "Send in the Clowns."

Matthew Wright finds all the laughs in his portrayal of Fredrik, and in the role of the put-upon Countess Malcolm, Katherine DeBoer is a treat.

Dorothy Silver as the wheelchair-bound Madame Armfeldt dominates the stage. Her solo "Liaisons" spells out her bottom-line guide to amour: "It's but a pleasurable means to a measurable end."

Five more excellent voices are used as the Liebeslieder Singers, a Greek chorus that musically comments on the folly of people and their passions. But at times, their segments seem poorly integrated and tend to impede the flow.

Even with occasional bumps, credit goes to Sternfeld and FPAC for mounting a strong production of this daunting and always fascinating piece.


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