The Welsh beauty stars alongside veteran actress Lansbury in the Stephen Sondheim play, which opened in New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre on Sunday (13Dec09).
Zeta-Jones has been applauded by trade paper Variety as “bewitching, confident and utterly natural” in her portrayal of middle-aged actress and seductress Desiree Armfeldt, with writer David Rooney adding, “She breathes a refreshing earthiness and warm-blooded sensuality into the part.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes her “beautiful” vocals and “terrific stage presence”, while Newsday calls the Chicago! star “earthy and poignant”.
But reviewers saved their highest praise for Lansbury, whose performance as Zeta-Jones’ mother, Madame Armfeldt, has been branded “the production’s real jewel” by Variety’s Rooney, while USA Today called her portrayal “incandescent”.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck writes: “Lansbury uses her well-honed theatrical instincts to perfect effect as Madame Armfeldt, generating huge laughs with her expert delivery of the character’s piercing comic barbs.”
However, the musical’s younger stars, Ramona Mallory and Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, have not fared so well – the Associated Press refers to the actress as “particularly grating”, while Herdlicka, as the lawyer’s repressed son Henrik, is “close behind”.
But the youngsters’ performances have done little to detract from A Little Night Music’s overall review, under the direction of Trevor Nunn.
The Hollywood Reporter says, “Whatever its flaws, it’s nonetheless a welcome return of a show.”
A Little Night Music was last seen on Broadway in 1974.