A Little Night Music, Headgate Theatre, Colchester.

Continuing their staging of Sondheim musicals, Platform Musicals add another fine production to their history, of Sondheim and Wheeler’s A Little Night Music.

It’s based on Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of A Summer Night, and features a group of aristocratic types being unfaithful, trying to resist feelings of love and explores maturity and ageing.

It has echoes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but with older lovers and the sun never sets.

It’s also, typically of Sondheim, a hugely challenging score, and the company are to be applauded for tackling the show and taking a risk, and achieving very good results.

Central to the story is the actress Desiree, a superb performance by Jayne Sheeran, full of wit and naughtiness, but she also gets the finest song in Sondheim’s armoury, Send In The Clowns, and seen in context it’s a beautiful song of maturity and acceptance.

Maggie Brush does a fine turn as her mother, Madame Armfeldt, and delivers the song Liaisons with the right amount of charm and regret, and the ensemble sing the score incredibly well.

As rivals in love Michael Cook and Wayne Setford bring much humour into the piece, and Caroline Fritz does show stealing work as the bitchy and bitter Countess Charlotte. Adam Duarte Dias captures perfectly the angst of Henrik, in love with his father’s second and much younger wife, Anne, a charming performance by Rebecca Clemens.

While the middle and upper classes indulge in angst and over thinking, the working classes get on with it and this gives Helen McCraw a chance to shine as the maid Petra.

To be honest, I think it’s one of the weaker Sondheim musicals, mainly because the characters are largely unsympathetic, and Send in the Clowns is such a terrific song nothing else matches it. And no one can cover up the fact that the first act is overlong.

But director Andrew Hodgson and Musical Director Neil Somerville have an excellent understanding of the work, and the set and costume design was sumptuous.