Ramona Mallory in 'A Little Night Music'
While I'm honored and amazed to follow in my mother's footsteps, I've been careful to ensure my performance is something entirely separate from hers.
About the author:
If there’s anyone used to the term “Broadway baby,” it’s A Little Night Music’s Ramona Mallory, currently making her Rialto debut as Anne in the hit revival of the classic Sondheim musical. Her role—the childlike teen bride of dashing lawyer Fredrik Egerman, played in this incarnation by Alexander Hanson—is one Mallory was, for lack of a better phrase, literally born to play. A true Broadway legacy, the actress’ parents, Victoria Mallory and Mark Lambert, met onstage as lovers Anne and Henrik in the original Night Music mounting in 1974, with life imitating art once the show’s curtain fell. But in taking on her mother’s role, Mallory explains to Broadway.com that she’s not so much following in her parents’ footsteps as walking a very familiar path—in a distinctly different pair of shoes. We invited Mallory to explain her special link to A Little Night Music, in her own words.
It was an almost famous rumor on Broadway at the time: “Did you hear? Anne and Henrik ran away together.”
My mother, Victoria Mallory, was dating Len Cariou, who played Fredrik to her Anne, when A Little Night Music first opened on Broadway. When Len eventually left the show, she and my father, who was co-starring as Henrik, continued their quest for each other. Initially, of course, they were just friends. But by the end of the production, just as in the show itself, they ran away together without breaking the news to anyone.
Their whole romance was such common knowledge when I was growing up that I never felt the need to investigate it much myself. I mean, they’re my parents—I didn’t want to know too much! But I will say that I find the story romantic. It’s a perfect example of how powerfully theater can bring people together. And seeing them every single day together now, married and still loving each other, makes it even more romantic in some ways. You don’t really know how the story ends for Henrik and Anne. You do with my parents.
So with all that in mind, it’s shocking, on some levels, that this is the show I’m making my Broadway debut in, playing the same role as my mother, and at the exact same age. However, it’s not entirely unlikely, because there’s a genetic connection between this show and myself that literally runs in my blood.
The truth is I always sort of shied away from Night Music because I never wanted to fall into the trap of “Guess who my mom and dad are?” I wanted to make my own way in this business. I never closely researched or even explored the show before having to prepare for my audition eight months ago.
While I’m honored and amazed to follow in my mother’s footsteps, I’ve been careful to ensure my performance is something entirely separate from hers. People always ask if I went to my mother for advice in playing the part, but I’ve actually avoided talking about it too much with her—it would be hard to keep her directions and ideas about the role from creeping into my mind and possibly out onstage. Instead, I’ve spoken to my father about how she played the part. After all, he saw her play it in a way no other person could have. He said she was “otherworldly.”
In our production, Anne is very much a part of the world created for her—which is why it is so devastating when she finally discovers things aren’t as they seem. This isn’t just my take on Anne—it’s also [director] Trevor Nunn’s. He came to rehearsals on day one with a very clear picture of what he wanted, and I've worked hard to make sure our Night Music’s Anne is childlike. She is a true innocent.
Looking at me today, it’s shocking how much I look like my mother then, especially once I'm done up in the wigs and corsets. It must be doubly interesting for anyone who saw both the original and this revival that the Annes are so visually similar. But rest assured the minds inside those similar bodies are turning in very different directions!
While I’m no innocent like Anne, I’m not immune to the romance of this show—it’s lustful, heartbreaking, intimate. That real arc of such intense emotions is one of the most powerful things about it. (The audience certainly appreciates it.) I can safely say I have fallen in love with everyone in, and involved with, this show, and every note of the score. But I can also safely say I am my own Anne…so don’t expect to hear those “Did you hear?” rumors all over again.