Monday, February 15, 2016

Isn't it rich?

Adam A. Baritot 
I braved frigid temperatures Saturday night to see Theater 2020's new production of Mr. Sondheim's masterpiece A Little Night Music. The story is based largely on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night. It is convoluted and operatic, having to do with young love, love revived, and love found again. There is a wise old dowager, a naive young lad, a sassy young servant wench, a Greek chorus-like ensemble--everything you need for an evening's entertainment! Cold though it was outside, I was glad I went, and I highly recommend seeing the show. It runs through March 6.

The performances were what sold this show. The cast, many of whom appeared courtesy of Actor's Equity Association, was comprised of seasoned veterans and fresh young faces. Among my favorites were Adam A. Baritot as Count Carl-Magnus and Jessica Rose Futran as his wife, Countess Charlotte. Mr. Baritot was full of swagger and braggadocio and ego and insecurity. He is so convinced no woman could prefer another man that he must take desperate measures to reassure himself of it. Not for him social niceties like invitations or consideration of his wife's feelings. Ms. Futran gave Countess Charlotte at the same time an icy dignity and a charming vulnerability. She was a delight to watch, and one was glad things wound up happily for Charlotte.

Christopher J. Nolan
Christopher J. Nolan as Henrik was another favorite. Mr. Nolan is a fine singer and a good actor, and gave us Henrik's pent-up desire conflicted with earnest piety with great conviction. Chloe Holgate, playing Anne, the young woman Henrik loves, was charming. The two had an almost palpable chemistry when together on stage. Too bad Anne is already married. To Henrik's father.

I quite liked Elyse Beyer as Anne's earthy maid and confidant Petra. Petra knows how to enjoy life and has no hesitation when a new adventure is offered to her--if the man offering the adventure meets her standards. She and Anne have a Countess/Susanna-like relationship, with the more experienced maid offering advice and sympathy to the innocent young bride. Petra's song "I Shall Marry the Miller's Son" had a great sense of fun, and I could understand nearly all of Ms. Beyer's words.

Lorinne Lampert
Although I liked David Fuller as Frederik and Lorinne Lampert as Desiree, two former lovers considering reuniting, I would love to have seen more chemistry, more spark between them. Perhaps the intimate nature of the small and awkward performance space was a handicap, for I had the feeling they would have played better in a larger house.

The quintet (Mary Stewart Evans, Stephanie Jabre, Jay Aubrey Jones, Richard Lisenby, Mary Thorne) deserve kudos, as does director Judith Jarosz for her handling of the awkward performance space. Music Director Kevin A. Smith deserves special praise for leading the cast musically while playing a score reduction with great skill at the piano.

All in all, the few limitations in this show are greatly overshadowed by the eager and excellent performances of a solid cast. Highly recommended.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

My HuffPo profile of Barihunk Michael Mayes

I forgot to post this here a few weeks ago, when I published this profile to HuffPo:

Michael Mayes has been making a big name for himself in the past few years, giving passionate and memorable performances in such works as Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking and Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied. I myself wrote of his performance, "The word powerful can not be overused in discussing Mr. Mayes as Joseph De Rocher." I was fortunate to meet him just after opening night of Great Scott, another Jake Heggie opera in which he had a featured role. We talked at great length about a great many subjects, and what follows is a portion of what we covered.

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