For George Lee Andrews, his role as Fredrik Egerman in "A Little Night Music" (Wednesday at 8 on PBS), is the most delectable sort of just dessert.

When Stephen Sondheim's musical premiered on Broadway in February 1973, Andrews had the role of Frid the butler and one song, "Silly People."

The show ran for 601 performances and received six Tony Awards, among them best musical and best score, and included the song "Send in the Clowns." But Andrews' song had been trimmed out. (It appears on the album, "Sondheim: A Musical Tribute," however.)

When the show went on tour, director Hal Prince gave Andrews the part of Fredrik Egerman, a man facing a crisis of middle-age. Andrews played opposite Jean Simmons and Margaret Hamilton.

Then, in 1975, Prince arranged for Andrews to direct an international cast in a production of the musical at Her Majesty's Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

"Hal and Steve Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, the book writer, gave 100 percent of their profits to First Artists, a black group fostering the black arts," he said. "It was stipulated that the producers would have to allow black and colored -- mixed race -- audiences to see it. In 1975, that was groundbreaking. There were three performances for white audiences, two were for mixed, one was black, one was colored. So there was something for everyone then."

Now, in the New York City Opera's presentation, Andrews is back again playing Fredrik Egerman in the first major revival of the musical, which brings him a television appearance as well.

This week's three-hour telecast airs live from the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center and stars, besides Andrews, Sally Ann Howes as Desiree Armfeldt, Regina Resnik as her formidable mother, and Michael Maguire as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm.

Andrews, 48, said that playing the 55-year-old lawyer Egerman now is easier than it was when the show was touring 17 years ago and he was only 31.

"Although Hal Prince saw fit to put me in there, I had to act this age," he said. "But now it's nice, because I just sort of get to be there and it enjoy it, and it just sort of fits."

The musical, set in Sweden and based on Ingmar Bergman's 1956 film "Smiles of a Summer Night," is what Andrews described as "a very delicate piece because of the subtleties of the relationship. It seems they have to be just right. And there's some slapstick involved."

Too, his character is having a mid-life crisis. "Fredrik Egerman married this young wife {Anne, played by Beverly Lambert} and they can't make any connection," he said. "He's so enamored of the fact that she's so beautiful and young and he's trying to regain his lost youth. He's definitely having a crisis. He wanted this jewel, and she also acted like she really wanted him. But she's just a baby. She kind of grows up and everybody grows and changes. She finally runs off with his son {Henrik, played by Kevin Anderson}."

Eventually, Egerman and his former love, Desiree, meet and resume their romance.

For Andrews, there was a time last summer when Stephen Sondheim's "Night Music" blended into Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Music of the Night," or more accurately, into Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera."

While he and the New York City Opera company prepared the Sondheim musical for its opening in early August, Andrews was also appearing in eight weekly performances of "The Phantom of the Opera" at New York's Majestic Theater, a production that garnered seven Tonys for its opening season in 1988.

His days were long, as he rehearsed "Night Music" and appeared in "Phantom" in a variety of roles over the run of the play. On his 48th birthday, he said, when he was playing one of the opera managers in "Phantom," the actor portraying the other manager became ill during the performance. Andrews had to play both roles.

"I put myself on a regimen of yoga and exercise and got up nice and early. I realized that I was going to have to keep my energy up at a good level, and exercise and discipline gives you more energy.

"It was a lot of fun," he reflected. "I had less trouble with it than I thought. Somehow everything is on its own track, and when I start the show out and put on the makeup and get into the costume, I just kind of sail through it."

Now that daily rehearsals for "Night Music" are over, Andrews can return to his weekday role as volunteer art teacher and soccer coach at his children's schools.

"We love our kids so much we try to stay as close to them as possible," said Andrews. "Robby {age 9} loves sports. In the leagues he's in, the parents are the volunteer coaches, and if he wants to go into a sport, we go in it too. Right now, he wants to be a baseball player."

But it is his daughters who have the theater in their blood, thanks to their actor-father. They're off to a good start.

Shannon, 13, started out at age 3 in "The Sound of Music" and has appeared in other shows with Dad. "She already considers herself an actress," he said.

Jennifer, 23, who appeared with him five years ago in "The Fantasticks" at Sullivan Street Playhouse, is in the cast of "Grand Hotel" (five 1989 Tonys), playing at Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway.