Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Tonight David and I saw the World Premiere of Engagements by Lucy Teitler at Barrington Stage 2. It is a quirky, funny, sort of sad play about Millennials in and out of love. It reminded me a bit of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. All the wrong people falling in love and then waking up to what has happened.

Image result for kate loprest   Kate Loprest

It opens at an engagement party for Allison who is planning to marry Mark. Allison is played by Kate Loprest and Mark by Robert David Grant.

Image result for robert david grant  Robert David Grant

 Image result for amanda quaid    Amanda Quaid

At the party is Lauren, played by Amanda Quaid, Allison's best friend and Bridesmaid to be. Through some lively action, she winds up going to bed with Mark.

Well- you get the idea.

Image result for adam gerber Adam Gerber

 Into their lives come Ryan, played by Adam Gerber, and Catherine, Phoebe Strole. The confusion mounts through very lively dialogue and action resulting with no one marrying the person they came with.

Image result for phoebe strole   Phoebe Strole

The playwright has put together a very amusing first play. We enjoyed it.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Glitter in Glimmerglass!

David and I have just returned from a fabulous weekend at Glimmerglass Opera. Candide and MacBeth were the double feature and both were excellent.

Friday night was Bernstein's wonderful score for Candide. It was perfectly conducted and sung  by Maestro Joseph Colaneri, Andrew Stenson (Candide) and Kathryn Lewek (Cunegonda).

Image result for andrew stenson opera singer  Andrew Stenson

Mr. Stenson has  a high, free tenor voice and diction that must make Madeleine Marshall smile up in Heaven. He is also a fine actor.

Image result for kathryn lewek   Kathryn Lewek

Equally fine was Ms. Lewek as Cunegonda. High notes (and I DO mean high) are no challenge for her and she played the role beautifully.

Less successful was David Garrison as Dr. Pangloss. He is a fine actor and represented the character very well, but the part is just written too low for his singing voice. He sort of disappeared whenever he had to sang.

Also less than ideal was The Old Lady of Marietta Simpson. Again, a fine actress, but she pushes the chest voice so hard that when she has to go up it is to a thin, immature sound that is out of character.

The other members of the cast were excellent, especially Christian Bowers as Maximilian, Matthew Scottin as Martin, and Andrew Marks Maughan as Cacambo.

I missed the first Broadway production of this in 1956 but saw the 1979 version. In the meantime numerous changes to both music and text had been made. Changes were to continue into the 1990's. The original book by Lillian Hellman was finally scratched and Bernstein included music that had been deleted from earlier productions.

Whatever- Friday night's production was a delight and both Ms. Lewek and Mr. Stenson should be having much larger careers in the future.

I am amazed at the quality of singing and acting from the Glimmerglass Young Artist program. Bravi! 

Image result for eric owens   Eric Owens

Saturday night we saw a fine performance of Verdi's MacBeth. Eric Owens was magnificent in the title role. We had seen him at Lyric Opera in Chicago and knew what to expect.

Image result for melody moore    Melody Moore

 Melody Moore blew us away as Lady MacBeth. What a wonderful singer! It seemed that every aria she sang got an ovation- deservedly. Her sleep-walking scene, sung largely pianissimo  was spell-binding. She has absolute control of her voice, making whatever she sings sound effortless. 

Again the other roles, sung by Young Artists, were very well sung and acted, especially Soloman Howard, Michael Brandenburg, Marco D. Cammarota, and Derrel Acon.

Again Joseph Colaneri was the fine conductor.

A wonderful weekend of wonderful singing. Congratulations Glimmerglass. Long may you Glimmer!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

His Girl Friday

Tonight David and I saw  His Girl Friday at Barrington Stage directed by Julie Boyd. It was a fun evening featuring Christopher Innvar as Walter Burns and Jane Pfitsch as Hildy Johnson.

Image result for christopher innvar  Christopher Innvar

The play began life in 1928 as The Front Page, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (who was the husband of Helen Hayes). It starred Osgood Perkins (father of Anthony Perkins) and Lee Tracy. These roles, which were originally for two men, were changed for the movie when Hildy became a woman and a romantic element was added to the play.There have been several more recent productions of the play in the original form and another film made in 1988. 

Image result for jane pfitsch  Jane Pfitsch

In the 1940 movie, the role of Hildy Johnson was changed to a woman, played by Rosalind Russell and that of Walter Burns by Cary Grant. This is the version I am familiar with.

Tonight's performance was based on the movie and is placed in 1939.

An admirable cast romped through the fast-moving action. Both Ms. Pfitsch and Mr. Innvar were very good in their parts. I still have memories of Russell and Grant, and no one will ever replace them in these roles.
Standing out were Peggy Pharr Wilson as Mrs. Baldwin,Anya Whelan Smith as Mollie Malloy, and Mark H. Dold as Bruce Baldwin. The rest of the large cast was excellent.

This is the last Main Stage play of the season. Next week we wind up the summer with Engagements by Lucy Teitler at Stage 2. I felt it was an uneven season.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Capital Capitol Steps!

Tonight David and I spent a hilarious evening with The Capitol Steps at Cranwell. What a hoot! This group has been around since the 1980's when some Senate pages decided to put on a Christmas Nativity show. They were stumped because they couldn't find three wise men and a virgin in the Congress! (yuk, yuk) I just stole one of the lines from the show.

Tonight's cast included Jon Bell, who was simply marvelous as Barach Obama and others, Mike Carruthers, who was Harry Reid, Kevin Corbett, who was Mitch McConnell and asked Harry Reid to marry him since you need to be gay these days to accomplish anything, Janet Gordon as a poppy-eyed Nancy Pelossi, Delores Williams, as Sonia Sotomayor, and Dave Kane the wizard of the keyboards. Each of the actor-singers portrayed numerous well-know Washington types complete with quick-change costumes and wigs.

Meet the Cast! All the Companies!

Members of the Capitol StepsLet it be known that they left no tern unstoned! Including the Pope! A packed house laughed uncontrollably for an hour and a half. It was a great evening.

We started the evening with supper on the terrace of the nearby Pub which is on the impressive grounds of Cranwell.

If you get to the Berkshires before August 31st, go see it!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Stabat Mater

 I have never conducted the Dvořák Stabat Mater nor even heard it until tonight at the Berkshire Choral Festival's performance of the work. My first impression of the piece is that there is too much sameness throughout. Whether this is the fault of the composer or the interpretation of the conductor, Erin Freeman, I therefore cannot say. But until the final movement, everything was at the same  moderato tempo. The last movement, 'Quando corpus morietur', suddenly bursts forth in an amazing, vibrant mood. But that is an hour and twenty-five minutes into the piece. Up to that point the text is morose, so I guess that's what you get. As my friend, the late Dorothy Fee would say, 'He was sunk on the text!' I would like to hear another interpretation of the work to compare.

  Erin Freeman

The very large chorus did not sound as good as it did under Jane Glover two weeks ago, but, of course, it was composed of mostly different people, and Erin Freeman is not Jane Glover. Each week a new batch of singers arrives in Sheffield to prepare a different work under a different conductor. This week's sopranos had a hard time staying on the pitch in high registers and their entrances were what I call 'Split Infinitives' too often. Different ideas of what the pitch was supposed to be. The rest of the chorus, especially the men, sounded fine.

The soloists were Laura Strickling, soprano, Ann McMahon Quintero, mezzo-soprano, Theo Lebow, tenor, and Kevin Deas, bass-baritone. Mr. Deas had the best voice of the bunch and sang with good tone and musicianship. Ms. Quintero started a bit quietly on her first duet with Ms. Strickling, but came into her own in her solo 'Inflammatus et Accensus'. Ms. Strickling's rather light voice was at its best in the high range and Mr. Lebow sang with assurance with a thin sound.

Ms. Freeman seemed to know the piece very well and kept everything together.I would like to see a score to check the tempi for the first nine movements, all of which seemed pretty much the same. A more varied tempo approach to this whole section would liven it up considerably.

Not my favorite evening of choral music.