Sunday, September 25, 2022

  The Piano Teacher

Vintage Theatre Productions: Sept.16-Oct. 16


               Jennifer McCray Rincon

Elderly Mrs. K. was a piano teacher for thirty years.  Now she's having issues remembering things and has fallen in love with life’s small indulgences, such as candy and cookies.  She even offers them to us as audience. 

It’s a little uncertain whether Mrs. K. is consciously reminiscing or dreaming. The story she tells us as audience, begins with her waking from a moment of dozing in her chair, and ends with her falling back asleep at final curtain. Confessing that her favorite tv program is Dancing with the Stars, her vagaries and reminiscences take the form of disjointed memories about her piano students of the past. 

     Mrs. K. is lonely, and at one point begins to call her old students. Two of them visit her. Are they real or hallucinations? You decide. One, Mary, whom she has called, shows up for a brief visit. Michael, whom she hadn't called, also visits her, saying he had called her, but she doesn’t remember it. 

     Then there's the question of Mrs. K’s late husband, who, back in the day, was always in the kitchen with the children when they arrived and were awaiting the appointed time for their piano lessons. According to Mrs. K.’s monologue, he had suffered greatly in a war in another country. 

     Some shows of this nature ‘bludgeon the choir’ with too much information, making the audience feel as though they're being patronized. This is the opposite. It leaves esoteric clues, while expecting the audience to suss out the crux of the situation on their own.

Although Vintage Theatre’s production is blessed with good acting and direction, Julia Cho’s script is rather obtuse.

Director Dwayne Carrington elicits fine performances from Jennifer McCray Rincon as Mrs. K, Bobby Bennett as Michael and Cheryl Sarkaria as Mary. 

Go and see if you can solve this mystery.

For tickets call: 303-856-7830 or go online at www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

 

 

THIS OUTRAGEOUSLY FUN PRODUCTION OF XANADU IS A MAGICAL BLAST FROM THE PAST!!!

 

     With music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar and book by Douglas Carter Beane, XANADU is based upon the screenplay for the 80s Universal Pictures cult classic film by Richard Danus and Marc Rubel. 

    When the musical opened on Broadway it received Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book for a Musical and Best Choreography.

     XANADU is the first production of Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s 40th season!  It’s the start of one of the most well thought out seasons in memory at this venue. The other shows they have in line are: "NEWSIES", "I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE", "LA CAGE AUX FOLLES" and "MEMPHIS."

     By now it should be evident to everyone who attends musical theatre in this town that any show Nick Sugar directs and choreographs is going to be Amazing! Sugar has that Midas touch that can transform the dross of even mediocre scripts into musical theatre gold.

     As director of this show he brings in well-known acting talent as well as introducing us to new up and coming actors whose stars are  now rising.

     His choices of technical crew members give us artists who are stars of the first magnitude as well: Costumer Linda Morken, Sound designer Curt Behm, Scenic designer Douglas Clark and Lighting designer Brett Maughan. Becky Toma’s Props design is also outstanding. (This is Becky’s 27th show at Town Hall in the last ten years. Her artistic work on the magical staff – caduceus - for Hermes is just one example of this artist’s expertise.)

 

The astonishing music direction is by Goddess Donna Kolpan Debreceni, whose rockin’ band includes the great Larry Ziehl on drums, Scott Alan Smith on Guitar/Bass and Tanner Kelly on keys. Debreceni and company make these juke box hits sound better than ever! "Have You Never Been Mellow,""Whenever You’re Away From Me," "All Over the World", "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic" are just a few of them.

     Anastasia Koshevaya stars as Kira/Clio, the role performed by Olivia Newton John in the movie. Ms. Koshevaya is a luminous triple threat - some might say she’s a quadruple threat - since she does it all on roller skates.  Koshevaya graduated from the renowned theatre program at UNC.

     Jake Bell’s performance in the role of Sonny is the most engaging portrayal of this character that this reviewer has seen to date. One hopes to see more of his work onstage again soon.

     Denver favorite Annie Dwyer is Colorado’s answer to Carol Burnett. You can’t take your eyes off her as she steals the show as the hysterically evil Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy. BRAVA!!!

     Scott McLean’s honeyed vocals as Danny are ear-pleasing indeed.

     The ensemble is blessed with local star Gabe Morales as numerous characters, including Hermes.

  If you’ve been wishing for an escape into the fantasy of jukebox hits and sheer fantasy, this show’s for you.

      Don’t let this one pass you by!!!

 

For tickets



go online at www.townhallartscenter.org

Sunday, September 11, 2022

 A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING

PERFORMANCE NOW THEATRE COMPANY: September 9 -26

 

 

Superb musical accompaniment by the onstage orchestra and good vocalists notwithstanding, A Grand Night For Singing never quite rises to our expectations. This minimalist production of the revue of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classics, peppered with seldom heard songs from their early forays into the world of musical theatre, is a walk down memory lane that would be far better suited to a more intimate venue. At certain times in the performance the larger stage requires the actors to appear to have to sprint to one side of the stage or the other to allow for the next number. 

     The harmonies produced in the ensemble numbers are ear-pleasing indeed, and it is to be noted that Lars Preece’s glorious tenor astounds!!! You may remember Mr. Preece’s rousing rendition of “The Lees of Old Virginia” in Performance Now’s recent smash hit, “1776.” Still, this Tony award-nominated revue never quite succeeds.

See it if you must.

 

303-987-7845 or online at www.performancenow.org

Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway

 

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

 THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

CO-PRODUCED BY VINTAGE THEATRE and PERFORMANCE NOW THEATRE COMPANY

SEPTEMBER 2 – OCTOBER 9

 


BERNIE CARDELL IS A NATIONAL TREASURE!!!

 

This production of the Tony Award-winning show is a close replication of the one last year. The review will therefore be pretty much the same, except for where this production has introduced a new actor or some other innovation in the production.

 

     Last September THE DROWSY CHAPERONE appeared on the west side of town at Performance Now Theatre Company in the Lakewood Community Center.

This September Vintage Theatre and Performance Now Theatre Company are co-producing (reproducing?) the show in Vintage Theatre’s own Nickelson Auditorium in Aurora.

     This time there are a few changes due to schedules, moves and what not. Somehow the show has evolved into something even better!

     Having swept the MARLOWE AWARDS at the end of last year, THE HENRYS followed suit this summer.  You really can’t go wrong buying a seat for this spectacular show. It’s entertainment of the highest and best! And who doesn’t need a bit of that in these unsettling times? What was wonderful in the production in Lakewood, has been made all the more enjoyable in the intimacy of The Jeffrey Nickelson auditorium at Vintage.

     The show opens with the musings of a musical theatre super fan - Man in Chair- who’s trying to lift his spirits and decides on playing the original Broadway cast recording of a show called The Drowsy Chaperone. As he describes the show and plays the record – “yes, record”- the show explodes across the stage with eye-popping, ear-pleasing panache!

     Bernie Cardell portrays Man in Chair, and his portrayal is one of those truly exceptional performances that are SO rare, it will be talked about in theatre circles for decades. Cardell’s incarnation of ‘man in chair’ is tenderly vulnerable and wondrously open as he informs the audience of all his interesting points of view about “The Drowsy Chaperone’s” characters as well as the actors who played them. Cardell’s character walks in and out of the scenes in such a way as to let us as audience realize he’s more at home in his musical theatre fantasies than he is in real life. Kelly Van Oosbree’s direction of Cardell in “An Accident Waiting to Happen,” will have you in stitches. (Sorry. No spoilers.)

     In a nutshell, the plot has to do with whether Janet Van de Graaff and Robert Martin will get married or not.

     There have been a couple of changes in the cast. The bride is now played by Denver favorite Colby Reisinger. Ms. Reisinger is a musical theatre triple threat with a voice to die for. 

     The Latin Lover, Aldolpho is played by Matt LaFontaine with a superb comic take on the role. 

     Michaela Murray, who played June in the recent smash hit, GYPSY, knocks it out of the park as Trix, the aviatrix. 

     George A. Zamarripa is Feldzieg this time around. His performance in the role of this gangster boss is outstanding.

     Adrianne Hampton enchants as the squeaky wannabe actress and gangster moll, Kitty.

     As the groom, Andy Sievers continues to take the city by storm with his triple threat musical theatre talents.

     Brian Trampler (Underling) and Jennifer Burnett as Mrs. Tottendale return with vaudeville inspired moments that include spit-takes and malaprops galore.

     Andrew Bates taps up a storm as George, the Best Man.  Mr. Bates also scaled down his Marlowe Award and Henry award-winning scenic design for this more intimate space with true genius.

     Nancy Evans Begley stuns us once again as the Drowsy Chaperone herself. Begley’s spectacular voice is once again rocking the rafters. Her exaggerated facial expressions and semaphore-like gestures are now even in-your-face funnier.

     Tim Campbell and Kris Graves are the hilarious gangsters posing as pastry chefs. Their “Toledo Surprise” is hilarious.

     The choreography and direction by renowned Kelly Van Oosbree is perfection.

     Under the baton of Music Director Mary Dailey, the offstage band delivers the Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison score flawlessly.

       Emily Maddox’s Lighting Design provides just the right moods.

       Nikki Harrison’s costumes dazzle.  

 

NOT TO BE MISSED!!!

 

Vintage Theatre and Performance Now Theatre Company presents 

 “The Drowsy Chaperone” 

Tony Award winning send-up of the Jazz Age musical.

Sept. 2 – Oct 9

Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. at 2:30 p.m.

$20 - $38

303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

90 Minutes no intermission.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

 HAIR

MINERS ALLEY PLAYHOUSE: through October 2

 


Alejandro Roldan, Brian Bohlender and the cast of HAIR (photo credit: Sarah Roshan)


Sexy, exhilarating and devastating all at once, Miners Alley Playhouse’s production of HAIR is a stunning accomplishment!!!

 

     With music by Galt MacDermot, and Lyrics and Book by Gerome Tagni and James Rado, HAIR opened on Broadway in 1968. Nominated for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, it won the Grammy for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album. (The album sold some three million copies.)

   In 1969 yours truly left the boredom of Montana for a jaunt across the pond and a Junior year abroad in Aix-en-Provence.

    On the way I stopped in NYC for a couple of days…and saw HAIR.  

     The New York cast was superb. They were as concerned about stopping the war in Viet Nam and staying out of the draft, as I was. My number came up and I was all set to go, when Father Harrington, the president of Carroll College, sent a note allowing me to be a conscientious objector. (He knew about the peace marches I had led in Helena and Marseilles.) 

      The electricity projected from the New York stage was palpable.  A year later when I hitchhiked from Marseilles to see the London production, I was surprised to find it bloodless, stale and uninteresting. The British were not invested in this war. They were just 'playing Hippy.' 

     I also learned a great deal of my French slang by listening to the recording of the version francais. I never did see the French stage production, but the recording was fiery and fun to listen to. The French had already been to Viet Nam and capitulated. They knew what HAIR was all about.

 

     The Miners Alley Playhouse production of HAIR is outstanding!!!

 

Director Len Matheo has cast the show to perfection. He utilizes every square inch of the playing space. Matheo’s concept is driven home by his ability to shift the scenario on a dime from joy to heart-wrenching anguish. This, my theatre-loving friends, is the Genuine Article!!!

      Angie Simmons' choreography of “the largest cast ever at Miners Alley,” is exuberant and sometimes spills over into the audience to great effect.

     Denver favorite Alejandro Roldan’s performance as Claude singing “I GOT LIFE!,” and “MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, ENGLAND” is unforgettable.

     Brian Bohlender’s Berger,going from trousers to loincloth, astounds with “LOOKING FOR MY DONNA!”

     Ben Hilzer endears as the hilariously goofy Woof.

       Preston Adams’ portrayal of HUD is amazing as he leads us into the show with “AQUARIUS,” as well as in all his subsequent numbers.

       Both Bussy Gower as Jeannie, whose pregnant and gas-masked lament about “AIR” pollution is potent indeed, and Katie Jackson as Crissy, whose singing about her ideal - but lost - love, “FRANK MILLS,” provide truly unforgettable performances!

     Valerie Igoe’s Sheila is at her best with the heart-rending “EASY TO BE HARD!”

     Renowned musical director David Nehls commands the keyboards while conducting the superb live stage band. The show's rockin’ music  is piped in from the lobby.

     The Lighting Design by Vance McKenzie stuns!

      Don’t miss this awesome production! 

 

For tickets go online at minersalley.com or call the box office at 303-935-3044.

Monday, July 25, 2022

 MAMMA MIA

STAGE DOOR THEATRE IN CONIFER

THROUGH JULY 31

 


Set on a Greek island, the music of ABBA fuels a young girl’s search for her birth father. When three possible suspects show up from her mother’s past, mayhem ensues along with lots of laughs, explosive dance numbers and non-stop tunes.

     “Thank you for the Music,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “The Winner Takes it All” and “Dancing Queen” are just a few of the Abba hits you will get to hear.

     In Stage Door’s production OF Mamma Mia, Tanner Kelly’s Music Direction creates an ear-pleasing evening indeed!

     Justin Johnson’s stage direction for this jukebox rom-com brings forth winning performances from one and all in this huge cast. From the leads, Marika Reisberg (Donna) and Annie Carpenter (Sophie) to the supporting cast, Donna’s friends, and beaux from the past, this cast shines.

     Of special note are Donna’s two compatriots: Tracy Denver (Tanya) and Jessica Sotwick (Rosie) in their trio, Donna and the Dynamos.

     The set design by Dean Arniotes and set construction by Biz Schaugaard, deliver a smashing Greek Taverna.

     Jess Melton’s glitzy costume design is eye-popping!

     Superb choreography by Tracy Doty is exuberantly danced by the ensemble. Go check out the excellent work being done in Conifer at Stage Door Theatre.

 

For tickets call 303-838-0809 or go online at stagedoortheatre.org

Sunday, July 17, 2022

 TWO REMAIN,MEMORIES OF AUSCHWITZ

CENTRAL CITY OPERA


Left to right: Sean Stanton and Curt Olds 
(photo credit: Amanda Tipton)


COMPOSED BY JAKE HEGGIE

LIBRETTO BY GENE SCHEER

JULY 16, 20.21, 28

 

It is important to Remember those who perished in the Holocaust - Jews, homosexuals, political dissidents - so it will never happen again!


     Jake Heggie’s opera,”Two Remain,” is based partially upon the true stories of two survivors of Auschwitz: Gad Beck and Krystyna Zywulska. 

     Beck was a gay German Jew who passed away in 1993. Zywulska was a Polish dissident, who died in 2012. 

     Heggie and Scheer used journals and documents from the Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as Zywulska’s, “I Survived Auschwitz,” to create the opera. They also sourced interviews, many of which were featured in the film “Paragraph 175,” directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.    

      In the years between 1933 and 1945 the Nazis carried out a heinous crusade against male homosexuals under the statute of the German criminal code that forbade sexual relations between men. This statute was Paragraph 175.

     In the documentary: “Paragraph One Seventy-Five” Gad Beck tells about the nineteen-year-old lover that he had in Berlin, and how Manfred and his entire family were taken to Auschwitz and murdered. 

     “Zywulska was a Polish woman, who changed her Jewish name and who survived Auschwitz by becoming a camp poet. She wrote words to tunes that everyone was familiar with, and they would spread through the camp. Someone who appreciated what she did for morale among the in-mates, gave her a job, where she would not have to be afraid of being killed.

     Heggie and Scheer explored these emotionally charged experiences first as a chamber piece and then later transformed it into this opera, which was commissioned by Music of Remembrance. The piece is adamant that the heinous treatment of Jews, homosexuals and political dissidents must never happen again!!!

     Heggie and Scheer believe that a musical depiction of the emotional reality of these people’s lives is an incredible “conduit for the human heart.” And it is.

      Heggie's score for this opera is nothing short of magnificent! Showing some influence from the works of Kurt Weill, the song "Shoulder to Shoulder, Do Not Forget us!" is beautiful, heart-breaking and indelible. 

     Jake Heggie is also the composer of the outstanding and devastating opera, “Dead Man Walking” (Libretto by Terrence McNally,) and "Three Christmases." Central City Opera’s 2014 production of “Dead Man Walking” still resonates powerfully in memory.


Left to Right: Curt Olds and Tessa McQueen (photo credit: Amanda Tipton)


     Tessa McQueen stuns as Krystina Zywulska! 

 McQueen is a force of nature in her vocal depiction of Krystina's horrifying experiences at Auschwitz.

     Melanie Dubil (Edka), Gabrielle Barkidjija (Zosia/ Wala) and Catherine Goode (Krysia) are brilliant in supporting roles.

     Bettina Bierly's outstanding costume design speaks volumes.

     Curt Olds does an outstanding job portraying the aging Gad Beck. As he sits alone perusing a book in his home in Berlin, he ruminates over his past, and later dances with the apparition/memory of Manfred, his murdered lover.  His heartbreaking performance will resonate within you for a long, long time.

     Sean Stanton portrays Manfred, the spectre of Gad’s long dead lover. Mr. Stanton’s powerful vocals describing the devastating experience of Manfred's arrest by the Gestapo and subsequent murder will haunt you long after final curtain.

     Director Dan Wallace Miller paces the proceedings with a light and respectful touch.

     ( Due to the fact that some actor/singers had become ill, Stephanie Shelden and Abigail Raiford stepped into supporting roles, doing an excellent job at the last minute.)

    Co-conductors Brandon Eldredge and John Baril, led the excellent orchestra with passion and sensitivity.

     James P. McGough (wigs/makeup) has done an excellent job aging Mr. Olds for the role of Gad Beck.

     This opera is sung in English and has a running time of around one hour and forty-five minutes.

     I hope you get to experience this new masterwork of the American Opera.


     One must extend great thanks to this company, which allows the Colorado audience to experience, not only the great classics in the repertoire, but also contemporary works of the American Opera.


     This production is performed in the Foundry.

For tickets call: 303-292-6500 or go online at centralcityopera.org