Zeta-Jones' Broadway Debut 'Luminous'
But performance in A Little Night Music earns mixed reviews
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2009 12:00 PM CST
Angela Lansbury, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Keaton Whittaker are shown in a scene from the revival of "A Little Night Music," now playing at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre in New York.   (AP Photo/Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Joan Marcus)
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(Newser) – Catherine Zeta-Jones returns to the stage—and makes her Broadway debut—in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, which opened last night to mixed reviews:

  • The musical, which centers around “the complexly amorous adventures of a group of upper-class characters” in turn-of-the-century Sweden, was long overdue for a revival, and Zeta-Jones “has terrific stage presence,” singing and moving “beautifully,” writes Frank Scheck in the Hollywood Reporter.

  • However, “an actress radiating youthful vigor and sensuality is not a great fit for Desiree Armfeldt, the soignée Sondheim heroine whose most ravishing days are behind her,” writes Peter Marks in the Washington Post. Though Zeta-Jones “gives off so many effortless sparks,” she’s simply not the right choice for the part.
  • There is, in fact, a “wonderful actress” in the show, a “professional seducer” who “can still wrap men—and pretty much everybody—around her little finger.” Unfortunately, it’s not Zeta-Jones—it’s Angela Lansbury, who plays her mother. As for Zeta-Jones, she’s “radiant, yet doesn’t shed much light on” her character, writes Elisabeth Vincentelli in the New York Post.
  • But David Rooney thinks the “luminous” Zeta-Jones deserves more credit: “Bewitching, confident, and utterly natural, she breathes a refreshing earthiness and warm-blooded sensuality into the part, even if she's directed to underline every suggestion of sexual innuendo in Wheeler's book,” he writes in Variety.