Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dysfunction Junction

Dysfunctional families seem to be the theme of this summer's fare at Barrington Stage. In Kimberly Akimbo a family must cope with a daughter who has the Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome which causes a young person to age rapidly, often ending in their death during their teens. In Presto Change-O  family of jugglers has strong feelings of jealousy, and in American Son an inter-racial divorced couple must try to come to terms with their son who is torn between his up-bringing in the white world and his desire to fit into the black world, finally being shot by the police.

Well, you get the idea.

Last night David and I saw Tribes, an award winning play by Nina Raine. This family is being torn apart by a father and mother who have raised one son who is deaf but is not taught to sign because the father thinks that will make him a weak person,a second son who hears voices and stutters, and a daughter, whose only problem seems to be that she can't find a man.

Image result for joshua castille   Joshua Castille
The deaf son is, however, an expert lip-reader. He meets a young woman whose parents are both deaf. She is going deaf and can sign fluently but does not lip read. They have trouble communicating at first but fall in love.

Miles G. Jackson - _LFP6033 copy notext   Miles G. Jackson
When she is introduced to his family his father makes an argument about the uselessness of signing and gets things off to a bad start. Things begin to fall apart including the relationship of the young couple.

Image result for c david johnson actor   C. David Johnson
At the end, the second brother, who is the only one in the family to try to learn to sign, signs that he loves his brother. They embrace as the curtain falls. Or actually as the lights go off.

Image result for deirdre madigan   Deirdre Madigan
Other than that.

Image result for eli pauley  Eli Pauley
The cast featured Joshua Castille, Miles G. Jackson, C. David Johnson, Deirdre Madigan, Eli Pauley, and Justine Salata. There were three people signing the drama in last night's performance which was an ASL performance. One section of the theatre was reserved for hard of hearing people and the three interpreters, Candace Broecker Penn, Chris Matthews, and Joan Wattman signed the entire play for them.

Image result for justine salata    Justine Salata
A most unusual evening.

I felt the first act was much stronger than the second act which turned into a series of short vignettes bringing the play to its dramatic conclusion. Perhaps this should have been a three act play to give more time to develop these brief, emotional moments. 

This was certainly an most unusual night in the theatre.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Capitol!

Putting a temporary finish to our feast of opera and theatre, tonight we saw The Capitol Steps at Cranwell. They are appearing in a new venue across the street from the Inn in the midst of the golf course.

The cast: Evan Casey, Jenny Corbett, Kevin Korbett, Morgan Duncan, Delores Williams, accompanied by the remarkable Marc Irwin (he played the whole show in semi gloom from memory!!), produced a series of impressions of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Sonia Sotomayor, the Notorious RBG, Bob Dylan, and on and on.

Much of it was very funny, though I thought last year's show was better. They played to a packed house and we all had a great time.

No more theatre for at least a week. This weekend is all about teaching voice!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Marin Mazzie and Janson Danieley

Continuing our musical marathon, David and I saw Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley in concert at Barrington Main Stage tonight. No rest for the wicked!

I saw Marin in a very good revival of Kiss Me Kate in 1999. I had seen the original in 1950 with Alfred Drake and Patricia Morrison. I have a soft spot in my heart for Marin since she is a 'gal' from Kalamazoo, which makes her almost a native of Battle Creek, my home town.

Image result for marin mazzie

Jason Danieley played the role of Tom in a reading for producers of Nancy Ford's wonderful musical Blue Roses, which is based on Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie. I saw this performance in New York City a few years ago. He was great.

Image result for jason danieley

So is the show! I wish I could convince Julie Boyd to present it at Barrington Stage. It would be perfect for Stage 2!

Tonight's concert was a compilation of songs from shows each of them has done, singly or together. They were accompanied by Joseph Thalken, pianist, Pete Donovan, bassist, and Rich Rosenzweig, drummer.  Songs like 'A Cockeyed Optimist', Hello Young Lovers', and 'So in Love' are favorites of theirs and of mine. They did a lot of songs by Kander and Ebb who have never been my favorite song writers. But since each has appeared in shows by these song writers, it is obvious why they chose this repertoire.

Marin has a really great 'Broadway' voice, capable of soaring the heights or being down to earth. Her recent illness and chemo-therapy are not evident in her energy level or the way she sings.

Jason has a good natural voice but tends to put a 'Broadway'  edge on it, especially on high notes. 

This is my definition of a singer holding a note, especially a high note, without allowing the natural vibrato to be a part of the sound. It puts a sharp edge on the sound which can become unpleasant when used to excess. Judy Garland did this sort of thing as she aged and would hold a note with a very straight sound until the end when she would allow what I have termed in one of my books on singing, a 'Terminal Vibrato' to occur. As deadly as that sounds, allowing the voice to relax into a vibrato at the end of the straight note makes it somehow acceptable. Her daughter Liza used the same device with less success.

Marin is able to use the 'Broadway' sound when she wants to without the unpleasantness that occurs in Jason's voice. Otherwise he can sing very well when he wants to. 

We have one more evening of theatre to go! Capital Steps on Wednesday night!