Hunter Ryan Herdlicka is preparing for the closing of A Little Night Music—for real this time. Last June, the cast of the acclaimed production was given a second life when Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch signed on to replace departing stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury—just two weeks before the show was set to close. For Herdlicka, who is making his Broadway debut at 24 as the morose Henrick, the extension was a fairytale ending to a story that already had one.
“We thought we were done,” Herdlicka said. “I was on my phone and I clicked onto BroadwayWorld.com and I saw that headline that we were going to stay open with Bernadette and Elaine. It was a shock.”
With Night Music, Herdlicka experienced an aspiring young actors dream. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, Herdlicka was cast in the role of Henrick in the revival of A Little Night Music before he even moved to New York. He was, in fact, the first person cast in the show. “It wasn’t until that summer that I started hearing names like Uma Thurman, these celebrities that were going to come and be in the show,” Herdlicka said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! They’re not just bringing over the people from the London [Menier Chocolate Factory] production?’ It didn’t hit me till a few months into the run that it was such a huge deal.”
Herdlicka’s audition process took just nine days. During his final callback, he sang for the show’s composer Stephen Sondheim. “I had met him in the elevator on the way up,” Herdlicka said. “I shook his hand, he knew my name. That kind of helped me relax a bit. In the audition room, [director Trevor Nunn] was introducing me to everyone, which makes you feel so comfortable, I wish everyone would do that when you go to an audition. Trevor says, ‘Stephen, this is Hunter.’ And he says, ‘Oh, we go way back!’”