Sex, jealousy and infidelity are on full display in Frisco. A Little Night Music, a musical by Stephen Sondheim, is running from July 29, through Aug. 1, at Theatre Frisco.
Set in Sweden at the dawn of the 1900s, the musical explores the romantic entanglements of old lovers and new, relationships bound by marriage and lust, and appropriately for today’s porn climate, one case of a young man lusting after his stepmom. Dallas actress Karen Raehpour takes on the role of Desiree Armfeldt, an actress coming to terms with a declining career that sees her playing smaller theaters to a dwindling patronage.
Raehpour is excited for audiences to see the production, as the character of Desiree is one the actress has always hoped to play.
“It’s gorgeous,” Raehpour says of the show. “The melodies are gorgeous, it’s clever writing, it still has all of Sondheim’s genius in there. And I like that it’s not overdone. A lot of people haven’t seen it, so here’s a fantastic lyricist and composer’s work that people can actually go to the theater and not know what the ending is necessarily.”
If A Little Night Music doesn’t sound familiar to you, it’s not surprising but still unfortunate. The musical had a successful run during the '70s in the wake of its release, winning four Tony Awards — garnering the honorable title of Best Musical — and introducing the world to the song “Send in the Clowns.” It makes it all the more puzzling that while the Sondheim production enjoyed such favorable attention early on, including a film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor, that A Little Night Music would fail to have the staying power of a West Side Story or (bafflingly) Cats.
Raehpour, who's worked previously as an actress in Chicago and Los Angeles, took a break from the stage to start a family and is now quickly becoming a name to know in Dallas theater.
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“What really struck me was just how much more myself I felt than I had in so long,” Raehpour says. “I think when we put our dreams aside, for whatever reason, they have a way of haunting us. Hanging over our head like a little reminder that something’s not quite right. I couldn’t believe how much more settled I felt with it back in my life.”
While the North Texas theater community might be smaller than Chicago's or LA's, Raehpour is impressed with what Dallas has to offer in terms of production. She points to A Little Night Music director Neal Whitmore as an example of the talent and professionalism working tirelessly in DFW to make each performance a memorable one.
Especially notable to Raehpour are the community theaters in North Texas — the local playhouses performing classics at a level that shouldn’t be missed by those instead browsing for the newest movies.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality of work going on around here,” Raehpour says. “Right here in the suburbs. You do not have to drive to Dallas to see a great show on a Friday or Saturday night. And you don’t have to spend a hundred bucks. These tickets are like $15 to $35 apiece, to see some pretty quality theater.”