Monday, April 13, 2015

The Cherry Orchard
Germinal Stage Denver: 4/3 – 5/3
Left to Right: Stephen R. Kramer, Eric Victor, Lisa Mumpton and Leroy Leonard

      Anton Chekhov’s "The Cherry Orchard" is the current offering of Germinal Stage Denver. The playwright wrote "The Cherry Orchard" after having been diagnosed with Tuberculosis and originally intended it to be seen as a comedy. However, Constantin Stanislavsky directed it as a tragedy when it debuted at The Moscow Art Theatre. 
     Some directors lean into the tragic and some the comic aspects of Chekhov’s work. We’ve seen Ed Baierlein lean each way in differing productions of such plays   as "Uncle Vanya."  This production of "The Cherry Orchard" is a truly balanced one.  There is great humor in the portraits of these Russians as well as all the pathos associated with the uprooting deep change of aging, death and social upheaval caused by revolution.

       Lisa Mumpton portrays Lubov, the mistress of this aristocratic mansion with its magnificent cherry orchard.
Her ability to communicate dignity and sophistication in the midst of this vulgar and ignorant rabble as well as profound sorrow at the loss of her childhood home anchors the production.

     Ed Baierlein is achingly funny as the doddering family servant, Fiers. Baierlein, who also directs, focuses on the damage - physical, mental and emotional - done to all of these characters by the passage of time… and the revolution. The way in which he self-directs Fiers’ moment at final curtain speaks volumes.

     It’s a joy to see Eric Victor onstage again.  As Pischik he is hilariously natural dozing on the setee or rambling on and on about his accomplishments and short-comings.

     Stephen R. Kramer portrays Lopahin, a peasant’s son who has acquired the home and cherry orchard of his aristocratic masters at an auction.  Kramer delivers this character’s elation at this victory as a two-edged sword. Out one side of his mouth comes the self adulating praise that he is now"the boss." Out the other comes the sobering awareness that he does not have the education to handle things the way educated people do nor does he have the slightest idea of what he's going to do with his newly won status. Kramer also did the admirable lighting design.

     Leroy Leonard’s intentionally choppy delivery accentuates his character’s mental decline. As a result of his inability to deal with the social changes along with loss of the estate he lapses into self-talk around billiard shots and chats with the antique furnishings.

    The sound design is thoroughly well done and sounded so good this reviewer inquired as to whether there were a totally new sound system that had been installed. There wasn’t. However… someone has discovered how to use the one they’ve got! 

     The well-appointed set design complete with crystal chandelier, antique furnishings and samovar, speaks of a once grand aristocratic life. This scenic design gives the illusion of far more depth than usual at this venue and allows for multiple entrances and exits that give the general effect of a bustling household.
     Sallie Diamond created the wonderful costumes. The dusty rose gown for Ms. Mumpton is an eye-popper.

The cast also includes: Sandra Prestia-Turner, John W.B. Greene, Karin Carr, Caitlin Conklin, Laura Booze David L. Wygant and Jeremy MacNichol.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD By Anton Chekhov plays Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from April 3rd through May 3rd, 2015. Germinal Stage Denver is located at 2456 W. 44th Avenue, Denver, CO. For tickets call:303.455.7108 or go online at: 

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