Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Royal Family

I have given my opinion of the work of William Finn several times in the past and last night's performance of his The Royal Family of Broadway at Barrington Stage did nothing to change it.

It is a loud, over-blown production based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber based on the Barrymore family of actors. Any resemblance is purely accidental.

One of the more surprising nights in my life. It began with a flat tire and ended with a Tony Award.

Harriet Harris played the grandmother, who is infirm but not ready to retire from show business. She had what was the best number of the show and brought it off very well.

Laura Michelle played her daughter Julie and Hayley Podschun was Gwen her grandaughter. Both belted out high notes that were hard on the ears. This is apparently the way actresses sing on Broadway, or at least in Pittsfield these days.

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Will Swenson played Tony, the son, who was supposedly a copy of John Barrymore. He had a good voice with the occasional roar.

In a word, it was a tough evening for a voice teacher. A woman sitting next to me asked 'Why do they scream?'

Good question.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938), better known as Typhoid Mary, was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook. She was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation. (Wikipedia)

Last night David and I saw Mark St. Germain's play Typhoid Mary at Barrington Stage 2. It is a dramatic masterpiece about this amazing woman who worked as a cook in several New York homes after coming from Ireland.

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Heading the cast in the title role was Tasha Lawrence, who simply was Typhoid Mary. Her strong performance was the glue that held the whole play together. Angry, sympathetic, loving in turn, she captured all the emotions of this conflicted woman.

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Kevin O'Rourke was excellent as Dr. William Miller, the man who was in charge of her incarceration in one hospital where she was forced to stay out of the public eye.

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Miles G. Jackson was Father Michael McKuen/ Martin Fazier the priest who tried to give her comfort in her incarceration and a fellow sufferer of the disease. He played both parts extremely well.

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Keri Safran played another doctor, Dr. Ann Saltzer, who was not sympathetic to Mary's condition and who, at one point, thought of ending Mary's life with an injection.

Frances Evans was fine in the role of the child Sarah, in whose home Mary cooked and who loved the young girl who died of typhoid fever.

It was an engrossing evening in the theatre. Bravi to the cast and to Mark St. Germain for producing this fine work.