Frank Sinatra once described Send in the Clowns as"I think one of the most beautiful songs written in maybe all the time I've been in this racket".
He also described it as "one of the best marriages of words and music done in a long time".
No-one should ever argue with ol' blue eyes. It's a kick arse song from the show A Little Night Music by musical theatre master Stephen Sondheim. Despite it being "poignant and beautiful" A Little Night Music was last performed in Brisbane almost 40 years ago (one can only guess how many times Cats has been performed in that period).
"I do believe the last time it was performed in Brisbane was the late 70s, early 80s," says Brisbane actor, director and acting coach Cienda McNamara. Cienda, a Sondheim lover, says the show has been dormant for too long and it is now time to bring it out of hibernation.
She has teamed up with friend and colleague Michael Keen, the conductor of the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, to realise the dream.
Cienda is directing the concert staging of A Little Night Music which will be performed twice only at the Princess Theatre in Annerley on Saturday.
It promises to be extraordinary - but no-one should underestimate how difficult pulling it off is.
"Sondheim is a tricky, tricky beast from the actual book itself to the music, the music is incredibly beautiful and incredibly dense but really challenging," says Cienda.
But if any cast is up to the job it's the one assembled for this production.
Taking to the stage will be will be a cross section of talent from musical theatre, opera and theatre as well as the 50 members of the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
Three days out, at the Sitzprobe (the first seated rehearsal bringing together the voices and the orchestra), Cienda took time out to reflect on the process of creating a staged concert rather than a full musical.
"It's been a challenge but a really interesting one," Cienda admits. "This is my first experience of trying to find that balance and working out what we need to tell of the story that will lead us from song to song and give us back story of the characters. It's been a bit of a challenge and we are still figuring out how it's going to work out."
Where we sit outside the auditorium at the Old Museum, a vast array of props and costumes for the show is being organised on the floor. In that collection is a promise that while this may be a concert, the relationship to the original musical theatre piece will not be lost. "You'll get a theatrical experience but we are using costumes to notate and hint at. It's not exactly of the period and of the era but representative of. That's how we are treating the staging. It's not a full staged production but it is representative of it."
For those not familiar with the work it promises to be an amazing awakening.
"People don't know it but when they do find themselves listening to Sondheim they can't help but get into it. It's just about educating audiences and getting their palates more whet with Sondheim."
This weekend's performance promises to be quite the introduction to those who haven't heard a Sondheim work before or a rediscovery for those who have.
"It's a chance to see a wonderful piece of American musical theatre performed by extraordinary performers and a wonderful orchestra," says Cienda. "It's a chance to listen to a 50-piece orchestra and actors sing this incredible genius's music."
Now that has to be better than A Weekend in the Country (inside joke, that's the song that closes Act 1. Also I don't like the country much).
Concert tickets are available from Sticky Tickets
You can listen to the full interview here.