Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Deador Alive??

WELL....we didn't walk out of the theatre humming the tunes tonight!

David and I saw A Little More Alive tonight at Barrington Stage 2. It has book, lyrics, and music all written by Nick Blaemire. Mr. Blaemire could take a few lessons from Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green, whose Bells Are Ringing we saw just a few days ago.

I was apparently born about 50 years too soon to appreciate the kind of thing Mr. Blaemire considers 'Musical Theatre'. Whereas Jule Styne takes a lyric from Comden and Green and sets it to a melody, Mr. Blaemire writes a line of dialogue and adds notes to it. That's not quite the same thing. Gian Carlo Menotti used to write both the words and music with great success. I'm just too old to get this Millennial version of Musical Theatre, I guess.

In tonight's effort, the plot centers around two sons returning home for their mother's funeral. One is a pothead and the other a successful businessman. They discover letters proving that their mother had an affair during their childhood. It goes downhill from there.

Image result for van hughes Van Hughes 

Image result for daniel jenkins actor 
Daniel Jenkins

The three men, Van Hughes, Daniel Jenkins, and Michael Tacconi all had good voices but were forced to holler their songs over a much-too-loud orchestra. Since everything was being amplified, this is the fault of the director who should have balanced this in rehearsals.

Image result for michael tacconi Michael Tacconi

The two women, Nicolette Robinson and Emily Walton joined in the general melee of shout-singing, producing a lot of sound but almost no understandable words. When one shout-sings (I just made this phrase up), it is not possible to hear the text, especially when the orchestra is drowning out the voices.

In case you haven't figured out as yet, I didn't like this show.

The actors were all good in representing the characters they were portraying but were sunk with the music (??) that they had to shout-sing.

If this is the new era of what is considered musical theatre, I give up.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

And the winner is.....

And the winner is.......Kate Baldwin in Berkshire Theatre's production of Bells Are Ringing, the hit show from the 50's that is as fresh and sassy as ever.

I saw the original production at the Schubert Theatre in 1956 which starred Judy Holiday, Jean Stapleton, and Sidney Chaplain. The infectious score is by Jule Styne, and the imaginative lyrics are by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. How can you go wrong with this bunch?

Image result for kate baldwin  Kate Baldwin

I never thought that anyone would ever replace my memory of Judy Holiday in this role, but tonight Kate Baldwin made the part her own. She has a wonderful Broadway voice and attitude. She lives the part and brings down the house. She and Judy are equals to my way of thinking. Bravi!!

Image result for graham rowat  Graham Rowat

Graham Rowat, Ms. Baldwin's off-stage husband, played Jeffrey Moss. He too is excellent though I would love to work with him on his singing. It's a good voice but he does strange 'B'way' things with it.

The entire cast was excellent, each playing several parts with clever costume and wig changes. Those were the days when you actually had to be able to SING to be in a Broadway show. This bunch could do it- and did! Big choral endings on show stopping numbers.

This is a show where it's easy to go out humming the tunes. Several people were actually doing that as we left the theatre.

Kate Baldwin and Bells Are Ringing put Man of La Mancha under the bus tonight!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lost in Yonkers

Barrington Stage has finally come up with a second winner. So far this season we loved Butler and didn't care for Man of La Mancha or Shining City. Tonight we fell in love with Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers.

Any play with the word Yonkers in the title had better be funny.This play is funny, touching, sad, uproarious, all wrapped up in a wonderful production and cast.

I saw the original on Broadway in 1991 with Mercedes Ruehl, Irene Worth, and Kevin Spacey. Tonight's cast matched them in every way.

Image result for lynn cohen  Lynn Cohen      Image result for paula jon derose  
                                                     Paula Jon Derose

Lynn Cohen was grumpy and touching as Grandma Kurnitz, Dominic Comperatore was sympathetic as Eddie, Stephanie Cozart inhaled her sentences wonderfully as Aunt Gert, Paula Jon Derose was off the charts as Bella, David Christopher Wells was scary and tender as Louie, and Jake Giordana (in his first professional theatre role) and Matt Gumley stole the show as Arty and Jay, the two kids.

It was a great evening of theatre!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Jane Glover conquers Berkshire County

Tonight Jane Glover conquered Berkshire County. She led a stellar performance of Britten's War Requiem at the Berkshire Choral institute in Sheffield, MA.

Image result for jane glover

I have raved about her work with Music of the Baroque in Chicago for several years and tonight she rose to even greater heights leading a chorus of 220 singers, a children's chorus, three soloists, the Springfield Symphony, and a chamber orchestra. Every note of this incredible work sprang from her fingers as she cued every vocal and every symphonic entrance while indicating beyond any doubt that she owns this piece.

The soloists, Janice Chandler-Eteme, soprano, Charles Reid, tenor, and Tyler Duncan all sang beautifully. I could have wished for better diction from all of them, but I quibble.

It was a brilliant, exciting evening.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Tonight Barbara, David and I saw Shining City by Conor McPherson at Barrington Stage 2.

It is a puzzling play, at least to me. There are two protagonists. One is a former priest who is now a psychologist who has split with his girlfriend who has borne his child.

The other is a middle aged business man who has lost his wife in an accident and sees her ghost in their home. It turns out that he had an aborted affair with a woman shortly before the accident and blames himself for her death. He comes to the psychologist for help.

Image result for mark h doldMark H. Dold

Image result for wilbur edwin henryMark H. Dold is the psychologist and Wilbur Edwin Henry is the business man.

                    Wilbur Edwin Henry

Deanna Gibson is the girlfriend who shows up for an emotional scene with the psychologist in which he tells her he can't live with her.

Patrick Ball is a young man the psychologist brings home for sex in a later scene. They have a very awkward time trying to get it on.

In the end the businessman is doing much better and brings the gift of a lamp to thank the psychologist. The psychologist decides to go back to his girlfriend and their baby.

As the businessman, Wilbur Edwin Henry really steals the show in several emotional scenes. They are practically monologues.

Mark H. Dold, whom I have seen before, was good as the very mixed-up shrink. In the scenes with Mr. Henry, he basically just listens.

I feel part of the reason that I have doubts about the play is that I feel the part of the psychologist could have been written better. The scene with the young man seemed gratuitous. Possible it was to show the sexual confusion of the shrink. The title of the play is based on the quotation from the Bible about not hiding one's light under a bushel. I really did not see the connection with the action of the play.

Barbara and David read great significance in the gift of the lamp at the end. Light under a bushel and so on.

At the very end, as the businessman bids farewell to the shrink, as the door is closed, a very bloody image of a woman is there behind the door. Apparently the shrink has inherited the dead wife.

Other than that....