Greenbelt Arts Center AmadeusBy Betsy Marks Delaney • Mar 21st, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Greenbelt Arts Center
Greenbelt Arts Center, Greenbelt, MD
$18/$15 Seniors and Students
Playing through April 4th
Reviewed March 19th, 2009
Amadeus is a is a stage play written in 1979 by Peter Shaffer, loosely based on the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Peter Shaffer was inspired by Mozart and Salieri, a short play by Aleksandr Pushkin and an opera of the same name by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Shaffer then adapted the play for a film released in 1984. Most of the action takes place in Salieri’s mind, carrying on largely through flashbacks and storytelling. Enveloped in God’s gift of understanding, Antonio Salieri believes he can hear God in the perfect music produced by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the “giggling dirty-minded” prodigy he dubs “the creature.” His jealousy consumes him and makes him believe he is ultimately responsible for causing the demise of his rival.
Antonio Salieri, as portrayed by Norm Gleichman (who bears a striking resemblance to F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri in the film version), is the soul of mediocrity. Amadeus, played by Zachary Brewster-Geiss is as manic and vulgar as he is brilliant. The duel between these two adversaries becomes the meat of the play. Together, Brewster-Geiss & Gleichman’s portrayals help carry the production, along with standout vocal performances by Astrid Marshall (Regina Della Notte), Kate Jackman (Susanna.Cherubino/Papagena), Rachel Sitomer (Katherina Cavalieri), and John Turner (Figaro). Sandy Irving (Baron Von Swieten) and Joseph Mariano (Emperor Franz Joseph), Erica Drezek and Jenna Jones (the Venticelli) add fine comic touches.
This highly ambitious community theatre production depends heavily on its talented cast, and often succeeds. Substantial effort has been put into converting the Greenbelt Arts Center’s black box to a hybrid combination of proscenium and two-sided thrust, bringing much of the action in to the audience.
Some of the design aspects work quite well. Curt Somers, the director, makes good use of the space he designed, bringing the “ghosts” in the audience into the action of the play. The set is sparse and often filled with action.
There are times, though, when the cleverness of the set design is outstripped by the technology used to implement it. The background slideshow proves to be a scene-stealer, with often abrupt and distracting changes rather than smooth transitions, especially at the start of the production. The interesting use of screens that provide both rear projection and ad hoc show curtain/scrim are not as well utilized as they might be.
Dan Sitomer’s musical direction provides for an excellent opportunity to listen to Mozart’s music throughout the play. The orchestra provides a first-rate musical background not often found in community theatre productions. In a few scenes, however, the volume and intensity of the background vocal and instrumental performances overpower and all but drown out the dialogue, making it difficult to understand. Thankfully these interludes are brief and not enough to mar the enjoyment of the production as a whole.
In the end, it is easy to think that this script, which Shaffer has adjusted several times to suit his own sense of artistic perfection, has “too many notes.” At just over three hours, it runs just a bit long.
In all, Amadeus represents a fine effort and is worth the price of admission.
Note Dal Direttore (Director’s Notes)
It is with pleasure that we welcome you to this performance of Amadeus. The two questions to ponder for the evening are “What is genius?” and “Is genius innate or inspired?”
This play is the product of the efforts of two proclaimed geniuses. The first, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the brilliant compositore of the music you will hear this evening. The second, Peter Shaffer, the skilled wordsmith who crafted this play and brought it to the world of the stage, where it won a Tony Award for Best Play (1981), to the silver screen, where it earned the Oscar for Best Picture (1984).
The genius of Mozart, evident in his singular form, magnificence of style, and unique ability to blend harmonies both crushing and completing, is that of the spirit, seemingly a gift of birthright and innately apparent in his flawless manuscripts. Known to never make a correction to even one single note of his music, Mozart enjoyed a perfection that is saved only for those who are born to such genius. He could take a simple phrase or commonplace occurrence and weave it into musical magic. Such genius is to be cherished…or envied. Perhaps that is why Salieri states in the play “He (Mozart) took ordinary things and turned them into legends, whereas I take legends and turn them into the ordinary.”
Contrarily, Mr. Shaffer, inspired by the brilliance of Mozart’s work (And that of Aleksandr Pushkin’s original play Mozart and Safieri (1831)), never satisfied that he had found similar perfection, as evidenced in his of the play, even after winning the two aforementioned honors. “I always wanted to showcase more of his (Mozart’s) music,” was his answer to his constant revisions.
In our humble conceit, it is our pleasure to present the dramatic elements of Shaffer’s play and the musical elements of Mozart’s music in a performance that hopes to please the genius of both. The proof of this hopefully is your pleasure as you contemplate our performance to honor their concerted efforts.
Vi Saluto! Ombri del Futuro!
- Antonio Salieri: Norm Gleichman
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Zachary Brewster-Geisz
- Constanze Weber Mozart: Christa Kronser
- Emperor Joseph the Second: Joseph Mariano
- Baron Von Swieten: Sandy Irving
- Signore Orsini-Rosenberg: Michael Kreger
- Baron Von Strack: Steven Feder
- Venticelli: Erica Drezek, Jenna Jones
- Regina Della Notte: Rachel Sitomer, Astrid Marshall
- Katherina Cavalieri: Rachel Sitomer
- Aloyisa Weber: Jill Vanderweit
- Susanna/Cherubino/Papagena: Kate Jackman
- Dorabella: Stephanie Shade
- Figaro: John Turner
- Count: Ron Waldon
- Papageno: Mark Granfois-Hunt
- Madame Teresa Salieri: Heather Martin
- Emanuel Schickaneder: Mark Granfors-Hunt
- Domo Principale: Paul Boymel
- Ballerini di Balletto: Sara Boysel, Chloé Bush
- Ensemble: BJ Mitchell, Mark Granfors-Hunt, Paul Boymel, Ashley Jones, Sara Boysel Chloé Bush, Mauno Kork
- Director: Curt Somers
- Producer: Norma Ozur
- Musical Director: Dan Sitomer
- Set/Art Design: Curt Somers
- Costume Design: Alison Rollins
- Costume Assistants: Alix-Anne Bush, Chantal Touzet-Bush, Alyc Helms, Sandy Irving, Gretchen Jacobs, Joan Jacobs, Alex Ruiz, Suzi Reams, Linda Swann & The Cast
- Properties: Gretchen Jacobs, Jeff McDermott, Dottie Spivacke, Alison Rollins, Joan Jacobs, Sandy Irving, Stephanie Shade and BJ Mitchell
- Lighting Design: Mary Lou Fisher
- Lighting Technician: Tom Zanner
- Stage Managers: Linda Sellner, Alix-Anne Bush, Susan Harper
- Graphic Design: Frances Ozur Cole
- Publicity: Donald Cook
- Photography: Gretchen Jacobs
- Programs: Norma R. Ozur, Misha R’kingsley, Curt Somers
- Videography: Randy Barth
- House Manager: Dottie Spivacke
- Oboe, Flute: Megan Geblein
- Cello: Jordan Hamilton
- Violin: Erika Koscho
- Clarinet: Stanley Potter
- Viola: Anuraag Sharma
- Viola: Lana Stewart
- English Horn: Danielle Wilson
- Piano: Steve Yusko
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3619.
Betsy Marks Delaney is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.