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

 

Monday, July 11, 2022

 DIE FLEDERMAUS

CENTRAL CITY OPERA

Composer: Johann Strauss, Jr.

Librettists: Karl Haffner and Richard Genee

(Playing in repertoire with THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and TWO REMAIN through July 31)

 

                                                   

                                 Alisa Jordheim as Adele 
                               (Photo credit: Amanda Tipton Photography)


Strike whatever’s on your calendar for Saturday night! Central City Opera’s production of “Die Fledermaus” is auditory champagne!!! 

 

     The quintessential Viennese operetta, “Die Fledermaus” has been called the greatest of all musical comedies in the repertoire. This comic operetta composed by ‘the Waltz King,’ involving mistaken identities and practical jokes, was traditionally produced in Vienna on New Year’s Eve.

     Dr. Falke is going to take revenge on his buddy, Eisenstein for playing a practical joke on him, which earned Falke the name Dr. Bat.  Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinde, is still being serenaded by an old flame named Alfred, and her chambermaid, Adele, is using the opportunity to ask for the night off to go partying. Eisenstein accepts Falke’s invitation to a party hosted by Prince Orlofsky (Kira Dills-Desurra), at which his masked wife and her chambermaid turn up as well. 

     In the end all the hilarious mayhem gets sorted out, practical jokes are avenged and all of it gets blamed on the champagne.

     Director Joachim Schamberger has done a superb job in the staging. His casting is impeccable.  Schamberger elicits strong characterizations from his actor/singers all the while emphasizing the festive frivolity inherent in the script.

     Gabriel Von Eisenstein (Dr. Bat) is played by William Ferguson. Disguised as le Marquis Renard at Orlofsky’s party, Ferguson is hilarious. Enoch Snow in last season’s production of “Carousel,’ this artist recently played Louis Ironson in “Angels in America” for Salzburger Landestheater. 

     Dr. Falke is played by Troy Cook. Cook’s rendition of “Bruderlein und Schwesterlein” (‘Little Brother and Little Sister.”) charms. This artist played Captain Von Trapp in the 2014 production of CCO’s “The Sound of Music,” and Germont in its 2015 “La Traviata.”                      

   Rosalinde is portrayed by Hailey Clark. This artist played Fiordiligi in CCO’s 2017 ‘Cosi fan tutte,” and more recently Alma Beers in “Brokeback Mountain” at Stadttheatre, GieBen. Clarke’s singing of “Klange der Heimat” (“Sounds of my Homeland”), while masquerading as a Hungarian countess, is magnificent!

     Prince Orlofsky, a wealthy Russian, is portrayed by Kira Dills-DeSurra. This artist’s singing and acting of “Chacun a Son Gout” is just one example of her vocal and acting excellence. Her performance in this role is consistently hysterical, and more than a little bit bombastic. Her accent and comic timing magnificent!

     (It is to be noted that peppered throughout the proceedings there are, from time to time, references to our contemporary “fake news” and “oligarchs” that are not only funny but spot on!)

     Adele, Rosalinde’s chambermaid, is played by Alisa Jordheim. Gilda in last season’s “Rigoletto,” she also played Fredrika in “A Little Night Music” (2009) and Flora in “The Turn of the Screw” (2012.) In this production Jordheim’s singing of the aria known as ‘the laughing song,’ “Mein Herr Marquis,” is utterly sublime! 

     Rosalinde’s old flame, Alfred (Matthew Plenk) sings The Drinking Song; “Trinke Leibchen, Trinke schnell,”(“Drink for drinking makes life merrier.”) Plenk’s singing intoxicates at least as much as the bubbly he’s promoting.

     The boozy jail keeper Frosch is played with broad strokes of comic brilliance by Curt Olds! This actor is currently cast as Monsieur Andre in the World Tour of “The Phantom of the Opera,” as well as recently having played the emcee in “Cabaret” at Atlanta Opera and Dr. Pangloss in Bernstein’s “Candide” for Opera Arizona.

     Conductor John Baril coaxes all the high-spirited joie de vivre - and there’s plenty of it! - out of Johann Strauss Jr.’s gorgeous score.  Under his baton, the luscious Central City Opera orchestra delivers Strauss’s rapture-inducing melodies gloriously!

     Set Designer Erhard Rom provides us with a beautifully appointed scenic design for Gabriel Von Eisenstein’s house, an opulent Century Ballroom and the local jail respectively.

     The excellent lighting design is by renowned resident lighting designer David Martin Jacques.

     Susan Memmott Allred’s costume design is eye-popping!

    This is a decadently scrumptious confection that’s so exhilarating, you can’t afford to miss it.  Run to get tickets!

 

This production is sung in German with dialogue in English.

 

For tickets call the box office at 303-292-6500  or go online at centralcityopera.org

Saturday, July 9, 2022

 GYPSY

VINTAGE THEATRE PRODUCTIONS: JULY 1 – JULY 31

(In the Nickelson Auditorium)

 


MARY LOUISE LEE ELECTRIFIES AS MAMA ROSE!!! This outstanding musical theatre actor blows the roof right off the theatre with her emotionally charged rendition of "Rose's Turn."


 

     With music by Jule Styne, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and Book by Arthur Laurents, Gypsy is what more than one director have described as the Best Musical ever.    

      Add to that the fact that the show is directed by Bernie Cardell, and you have a recipe for success non pareil.

     The tale of an ambitious Stage mother who is fighting for her daughter’s success, Gypsy opened in 1959. It’s set in the 1920’s as vaudeville is dying and burlesque is being born.

     Some of the great numbers you will recognize are: “May We Entertain You?”  “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, “Together, Wherever We Go,”and of course, “Rose’s Turn.”

     Director Cardell has cast the show impeccably. He’s assigned the plum role of Mama Rose to the incomparable Mary Louise Lee, and that of Louise (the young Gypsy Rose Lee) to Camryn Nailah Torres. (Nailah Torres received the Marlowe Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her work in Vintage Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “CINDERELLA” last season.) 

     The scene(s) involving Louise's evolution into Gypsy Rose Lee near final curtain are superbly acted. Ms. Nailah Torres will take your breath away.    

     Michaela Murray is a brilliant June. Joe Barnard performs the role of Tulsa with real panache. Barnard’s big number, “All I Need Now is the Girl,” is sung and danced beautifully.

     Denver favorite Michael O’Shea is eminently touching as Herbie. 

     Faith Siobahn Ford (Mazeppa), Jenny Mather (Tessie Turah) and ShaShauna 

Staton(Electra) make up the hilarious trio of strippers the troupe encounters entering the world of burlesque. It’s heartwarming to see ShaShauna Staton playing Electra in the auditorium named for her father, Jeffrey Nickelson.

     Joey Wishnia is superb as Pop!

     Cheryl Faulkner’s costume design is spot on!

     Trent Hines’ music direction is his usual professional work. Bravo!

 

July 1 – 31**

$20 - $38

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

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

 THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

CENTRAL CITY OPERA

(CALL OR GO ONLINE FOR PERFORMANCE DATES.)

 

                                       Rebecca Caine and Diana Newman


Based upon the 1960 novella by Elizabeth Spencer and the 1960 film that starred Olivia de Havilland, “The Light in the Piazza, the Musical,” has music and lyrics by Adam Guettel and book by Craig Lucas.  In 2005 Adam Guettel’s score for “The Light in the Piazza” won the Tony for Best Score. Craig Lucas’s book was nominated for a Tony as well.        

     Under the baton of conductor Adam Turner, the exquisite delicacy of Mr. Goettel’s score is delivered with consummate artistry. The scrumptious Central City Opera orchestra has never sounded better. One must make special mention of the musicianship of harpist, Janet Harriman and guitarist, Patrick Sutton. The composer’s score for this show makes us aware that he is also a jazz artist.

     Rebecca Caine, who originated the role of Cosette in “Les Miserables” in London’s West End, as well as having played “The Phantom of the Opera’s” Christine Daee in the West End and Toronto, plays Clara’s mother, Margaret Johnson.  Caine’s vocals are gorgeous and powerful. With her breaking of the fourth wall, and speaking directly to the audience, we become aware of her daughter Clara’s traumatic past. Margaret’s trip to Florence with Clara, brims with awarenesses about her daughter’s future … as well as her own.

     Diana Newman, who plays Clara, played Papagena in a recent production of “Die Zauberflote” at the Met. Ms. Newman delivers celestial solos with a soaring soprano.

     Clara’s love interest, Fabrizio Naccarelli, is sung by Ricardo Garcia. This actor’s robust vocals are soul-stirring. He was most recently seen as Romeo in “Romeo et Juliette” at Houston Grand Opera.

     Jennifer De Dominici delivers a fiery performance as Franca, Fabrizio’s brother’s wife, that is, by turns, sultry, jealous and angry. DeDominici’s mezzo is powerful and ear-pleasing indeed!

     Judeth Shay Comstock portrays Signora Naccarelli, Fabrizio’s mother. Breaking out of her native Italian to address the audience in English about the emotional mayhem in the house in a chaotic family gathering near the top of Act Two, this actor is hilarious.

       Margaret Johnson’s husband, Roy Johnson, is played by Curt Olds.

     For the last two decades Ken Cazan’s stage direction of Broadway musicals at Central City Opera - from Oklahoma to West Side Story - has been top drawer. His indelible work on Britten’s Billy Budd three seasons ago, surpassed all expectations. 

     Arnulfo Maldonado creates a scenic design that features gigantic Italian post cards from the 1940s and 50s. Maldonado was nominated this year for a Tony for his work on “A Strange Loop.”

     Renowned resident lighting designer, David Martin Jacques, once again creates magic with the lights.  At one pivotal point in the story, Mr. Jacques’ lighting creates the illusion of Clara’s psychological terror by employing a mesmerizing danse macabre of light and shadows.

     Edina Hiser, who created the costumes for “Carousel “and “Rigoletto,” last season, delights with eye-popping fashions for the female leads.

      One is Grateful indeed to see and hear such intensely beautiful work inside the gorgeous opera house once again. Do yourself a favor and get tickets.

    

For tickets call the box office at 303-292-6700 or go online at boxoffice@centralcityopera.org

 

 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

 FOOTLOOSE

PACE CENTER: JUNE 24 – JULY 17



Miracle Myles and the cast of FOOTLOOSE (Photo credit: Underexposed Photography)

 

Pace Center’s production of FOOTLOOSE: The musical, starring Miracle Myles, is Not to be Missed!

     

      Based upon the 1984 film of the same name, “Footloose, The Musical”

was nominated for three Tony Awards in 1999. The music is by Tom Snow, Sammy Hagar, Eric Carmen, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman. The lyrics are by Dean Pitchford, and the book is by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie.  

 

     When Ren and his mom move from the big city to a small rural town, the young man is not prepared to see how limiting the town’s “rules” are. The big issue is that dancing is forbidden.

     When the minister’s daughter, Ariel, sets her cap for Ren, her abusive boyfriend, played with gusto by Nik Vlachos, decides to ruin Ren’s reputation. 

     Miracle Myles sings and dances up a turbo-charged storm as Ren, the role made famous by Kevin Bacon in the 1984 film. It’s an exhilarating performance, you will not want to miss!

     As Ariel, Emery Hines enchants with a talent for singing and dancing that rocks!

     Carter Edward Smith is hilarious as Ren’s buddy, Willard Hewitt. Smith does an exceptional job transforming this character from a cowboy with two left feet to a dancing dynamo. Smith’s rendition of “Mama Says” is hysterical.

     Jeremy Rill stuns in the role of  Ariel’s father,Reverend Shaw. His singing of “Heaven Help Me,” and “Can You Find it in Your Heart,” are powerful! This actor really makes us feel the inconsolable grief of losing a son. 

     Nancy Evans Begley is luminous as Ethel McCormack, Ren’s mother. Katie Reid is brilliant as Ariel’s mother, Vi. "Learning to Be Silent,” the duet sung by the two mothers, is wondrous. Ms. Reid’s singing of “Can You Find it in Your Heart,” is truly heart-opening.

     Some of the hit songs you’ll get to hear are: “Let’s Hear it For the Boy,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Almost Paradise,” “Somebody’s Eyes,” and of course, the title song, “Footloose.”

     Kelly Van Oosbree directs and choreographs the show with consummate skill and artistry!

     Alex Hanna’s lighting design dazzles! 

     Curt Behm’s audio design amazes.

 

For tickets call the box office at 303-805-6800 or go online at:

PACEtickets@parkeronline.org

Saturday, June 18, 2022



 NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT

PERFORMANCE NOW THEATRE COMPANY:

JUNE 10-JUNE 26


                                              Andy Sievers and Ensemble


With songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and book by Joe DiPietro, this musical was nominated for ten Tonys in 2012.

     Imbued with the directorial genius of Bernie Cardell, and set afire by Christopher Page Sanders’ excellent choreography, Performance Now Theatre Company’s thrilling production is filled to the brim with your favorite Gershwin tunes!

       Andy Sievers, who received the Marlowe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance last season in Performance Now’s “The Drowsy Chaperone,” performs the central role of Jimmy Winter in this screwball comedy.  His performance ala ukulele with the instruments in the pit for “Do, Do, Do” will have you in stitches. Brava music director Heather Holt Hall for the insanely funny instrumental accompaniment.

     Dallas Slankard is Billie Bendix, the beautiful bootlegger with the gorgeous voice.  Her renditions of "Someone to Watch Over Me" and  "Hangin’ Around with You" will make you search out her name in every program from now on!

            Aynsley Upton is Eileen Evergreen. This actor's bathtub singing of "Deelishious," bubbles over with hilarity, proving that cleanliness is next to goofiness. (You’ll see what I mean. No spoilers!) This actor has a gorgeous voice and a hilarious stage presence that brings Madeline Kahn to mind.

     Liz Brooks is a perfectly cast Estonia Dulworth. Singing “Demon Rum,” this tea totaling battleship gets to show off a spectacular set of pipes. Later on in the show she gets to do some memorable chandelier shenanigans and a duet of “Looking for a Boy,” with the ubiquitous and always enjoyable character actor, Brian Trampler (Cookie McGee.)

      Tim Campbell is a hoot as Duke, singing  ("Blah Blah Blah!")

     Sophia Montoya-Suson (Jeannie Muldoon) is stalking Duke, thinking he’s an English Duke, and not a bootlegger. This actor can really command the stage. With an outrageously talented voice, she’s a comic force! Her singing of "Do It Again" is a riot. Her other great moment is an unforgettable version of  “‘S Wonderful!”

     Linda Suttle (Millicent Winter), costumed in a dazzling pink gown, and Verl Hite as Max Evergreen, add their acting prowess to the show as well. 

     The actors who perform the roles of vice squad as well as the chorus girls and boys from the speakeasy do a splendid job. You won’t be able to keep your eyes off the dancing of dance captain, Andrew DiGerolamo. Breathtaking!

     Alie Holden dazzles with her Costume Design, as does Emily A. Maddox with the Lighting!

    Andrew S. Bates, Marlowe Award for Set Designer for last season’s "The Drowsy Chaperone," is onboard once again with a well thought out scenic design.

     Heather Holt Hall’s music direction is superlative!!!

     It really doesn’t get any better than an evening of Gershwin music!


Run to get tickets for this sensationally well produced show! 

For tickets call 303-918-1500 or go online at performancenow.org

 

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

                   Marie-Antoinette Banks as Br'er Rabbit   (photo credit: McLeod9 Creative)


  an octoroon

Benchmark Theatre:  June 10 – July 11

 

 

an octoroon is a play

by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins that is an adaptation of Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon, which premiered in 1859.  Jacobs-Jenkins re-imagines the original, retaining its bare bones of dialogue and action, and uses Brechtian devices to critique the original play’s portrayal of race.

     Personally, I had never heard of an octoroon. Apparently, it means a person who has one African great grandparent and seven European great grandparents. (According to the play when one was discovered to be an octoroon, she/he would be sold along with all the other slaves when the plantation was sold.)

     This adaptation begins with BJJ, the present-day playwright, recalling a session with his psychoanalyst in which he becomes excited about producing this adaptation. Then there is an argument between BJJ and the original playwright, after which they put on blackface and redface paint. Apparently “many of the white actors have quit.”

     Through a series of vignettes set upon the plantation Terrebonne in Louisiana, we meet numerous characters of black, white, and native American descent.

     They interact in highly stylized, melodramatic fashion, such that we as audience are kept from feeling the abuse, neglect and general disrespect and violence by the employment of a Brechtian device known as “the alienation or distancing effect. As a result, the audience is hindered from simply identifying itself with the characters of the play. Acceptance or rejection of their actions and utterances is meant to take place on a conscious plane, instead of, as hitherto, in the audience’s subconscious.”

 

It is, as you may well imagine, quite complex.

If one is unmoved in the watching, as this reviewer was, the essentials sneak into the heart and find their way to one’s tear ducts the following day.

     This is the opposite of entertainment. In fact, it’s sometimes annoying and disconcerting.

…And it is intentionally so, following the rules of a Brechtian director.

     donnie I betts is an astute director, and you can bet (sorry!) that he’s done exactly what is necessary to create this complex opus onstage. His casting is always on point as well as his choice of techies. betts has directed award-winning productions of Porgy and Bess, Ain’t Misbehavin’,The Color Purple and more.

     So please go and experience this whirlwind of images putting racism on trial in a Brechtian fashion.

 

     As complex as it is, this is a fascinating work. The commentary on (and condemnation of) “folk” tales such as the Uncle Remus stories told by Joel Chandler Harris, and represented by Brer Rabbit in the show, is unmistakable. 

     Tina Anderson’s set design, El Armstrong’s sound and projection design and Elizabeth Woods’ costume design are all superb. Brett Maughan’s light design is his usual professional work.

     The cast includes Marie Antoinette Banks, Mykai Eastman, Kenya Fashaw, Latifah Johnson, Josh Levy, Colleen Lee, Teej Morgan and Samantha Piel.

 

Go and support Benchmark Theatre as it continues its crusade against racism.

 

For tickets go online at benchmarktheatre.com

1560 Teller Street, Lakewood, CO

 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

 Preview of the 2022 Central City Opera        

                  Summer Festival 


     It was an honor to get to interview Pamela Pantos, Central City Opera’s CEO.

      Ms. Pantos is a dynamic presence with a  mind - and a delivery - like a running deer. Truly the most exhilarating interview of my career, I hope to be able to allow you, dear reader, a modicum of this opera star’s electrifying vision.

     When asked about her ideas for the future of Central City Opera, Ms. Pantos said that Artistic Director Pat Pearce, Music Director John Baril and she, were already planning the Central City Opera Centennial celebration. Even though it’s ten years out, there is a decade long path they’re preparing, which, like stepping-stones, will include “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” six years in.

    Since next year’s season has not yet been announced, Pantos couldn’t speak about it yet, only saying that “it will once again be three mainstream productions which are highly interconnected thematically.” 

     She added that “the Colorado State Historical Society is providing a preliminary grant for a master plan for the Williams Stables, that are right across the street from the opera house, which would allow them to become a one hundred seat black box theatre which will be winterized so that shows can be done all year round. There will be the possibility that a composer and singer will be able to create and present shows from inception such as theatre companies do Off Off Broadway. In such a way the new piece would conceivably be able to have a world premiere after its workshops and previews on the main stage. It would be an incubator for further great works that could be conceived here at Central City Opera.” 

     Pantos sees herself as responsible for the health and well-being of Central City Opera as well as a conduit for the future of this magnificent opera company. 

    She spoke of fund raising as being so important, especially in these times where we’ve all been so financially strapped by the pandemic.  “Some people don’t know what an impact they can have. A donation of a thousand dollars would pay for two of the kings’ costumes in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Donating is making an investment in the future that will bring such joy to so many people. It’s a win-win for the donor, the company, and the audience.”

When asked who her favorite opera composers were, she mentioned Mozart and also Rossini. She spoke of the audience’s joy being palpable after Rossini operas. “It’s always such a high! As an artist you feel the audience’s joy like bubbles over the lights and the orchestra.” 

     She also spoke of “the joy of everyone in the company to be back in their home and performing on that stage. And so very sweet for our audience as well!”

      Ms. Pantos radiated a sincere passion and pride for the operas selected for this year’s Summer Opera Festival.

     Central City Opera’s 2022 Summer Festival is also the 90th Anniversary season of this glorious venue! 

     To celebrate this 90th Anniversary season, operagoers are being treated to three thrilling works.

     The first is “THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA” with its Tony-winning score by Adam Guettel and Tony-nominated book by Craig Lucas.   

     When Margaret Johnson, a well-to-do southern lady and Clara, her developmentally disabled daughter, spend a summer together in Italy, love calls unexpectedly. Both mother and daughter must reconsider their hopes for the future. The romantic classical music and operatic aspects of the score leave Broadway’s 21st century popular melodies far behind. The composition of the tunes is enchanting in this heavily orchestrated score. Some of the lyrics are in English and some in broken English since some of the characters only speak Italian.

Adam Turner, who conducted “Madama Butterfly”(2019), Carmen(2017) and “Man of La Mancha”(2015), will conduct “The Light in the Piazza.” 

     Stage Direction will be by Ken Cazan, who directed last season’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” as well as the outstanding production of Benjamin Britten’s “Billy Budd” in 2019.

     Arnulfo Maldonado, who did the scenic design for “Orpheus in the Underworld” in 2010, is creating the set for “The Light in the Piazza.”

     Rebecca Caine will sing the part of Margaret Johnson.

     Diana Newman will portray Margaret’s developmentally disabled daughter, Clara. Ricardo Garcia will play Fabrizio Naccarelli

     Jennifer DeDominici will portray Franca Nacarelli and Curt Olds will perform the role of Roy Johnson.

     Craig Lucas’ book for the musical is based upon the screenplay for the 1962 movie starring Olivia de Havilland, Rossano Brazzi and Yvette Mimieux, which was in turn based upon Elizabeth Spencer’s book.

 

DIE FLEDERMAUS

 

     Johann Stauss, Jr.’s beloved Die Fledermaus (The Bat) will allow us all to raise a glass to toast the sparkling music and lively escapades in this champagne-soaked operetta.

     Die Fledermaus will be sung in German with super titles and English dialogue.

      Arguably the most exhilarating of Johann Strauss Jr.’s comic operettas, it’s chock-full of the maestro’s intoxicating melodies.

       Will Ferguson will portray Gabriel Von Eisenstein, and Hailey Clark will sing the role of his wife, Rosalinde.

     Alisa Jordheim ( the outstanding Gilda from last summer’s RIGOLETTO!) will perform the role of Adele.

      Matthew Plenk will sing Alfred and Troy Cook performs the role of Dr. Falke.  Curt Olds will sing Frosch.

     With stage direction by Joachim Schamberger, John Baril will conduct.

 

TWO REMAIN by Jake Hegge

 

A short opera in two acts, composer Hegge’s new work tells a harrowing tale of two Holocaust survivors. 

     The show was commissioned by Music of Remembrance at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and composed by Hegge with libretto by Gene Scheer. It’s based on documents and journals found in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

     The show will star Sean Stanton as Manfred Lewin and Curt Olds as Gad Beck. John Baril and Brandon Eldridge will conduct.  Dan Wallace Miller will direct.

     Due to the high demand, all performances of Jake Hegge’s TWO REMAIN are being moved from The Foundry to St. James United Methodist Church to increase capacity.

 

“Proud Voices” is a series of events curated by community organizations to celebrate traditionally underrepresented voices through music and storytelling. There will be a special educational panel and performance highlighting themes from TWO REMAIN.

 

CCO Applauds John Moriarty

A Musical Celebration of Life

 

On Saturday, July 23rd there will be a special tribute concert event honoring Central City Opera’s former Artistic Director, John Moriarty and the impact he made on this company.

There is the usual parking available in the Opera Company’s parking lot as well as free parking in the garage at Century Casino. Dining will be available at the Teller House Restaurant, located next to the opera house.

 

Go online at centralcityopera.org to get tickets and for more information.

    

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

 THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL

BDT STAGE: MAY 27 – SEPTEMBER 3

 

                 L-R: Riley Fisher,Abigail Kochevar and Patric Case

BDT STAGE’S production of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL IS THE HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN this summer as far as family entertainment goes. 

 

Riley Fisher is OUTSTANDING in the role of SpongeBob. The short, muscular actor has the good looks and voice that make him the perfect casting choice! Fisher’s athletic performance even includes walking on his hands at one point. His renditions of “Bikini Bottom Day” and “Best Day Ever!” are just two of Fisher’s amazing vocals.

     Patric Case portrays SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star, with an endearing performance, and a voice that can really wail! His Gospel-flavored “Super Sea Star Savior” rocks!!! “BFF,” his duet with SpongeBob, is hilarious.

     The lovely Abigail Kochevar portrays SpongeBob’s underwater squirrelfriend…er girlfriend, who gets to unleash her awesome voice in the Flaming Lips song, “Tomorrow is.”

     Bob Hoppe gets the plum role of Squidward Q Tentacles. This actor’s exhilarating performance of the glitzy “I’m Not a Loser,” by They Might Be Giants, is one of the truly memorable numbers in the show.

     Brian Murray is a sensational Eugene Krabs!

     Scott Severtson is hilariously bombastic in the role of Patchy, the Pirate. His singing of “Poor Pirates” is the very fun number that leads us out of Intermission and into Act Two.

     When Chas Lederer had to miss opening night due to illness, Matthew Peters stepped in with only 36 hours notice.  This actor gave a terrific performance in the role of Sheldon J. Plankton, the villainous and naughtical (sorry!) organism you love to hate. Together with the beautiful Ray Leigh Case as Karen, his computerized accomplice, they try to assure us that Bikini Bottom will indeed be destroyed!!!

     Based upon Steven Hillenberg’s beloved Nickelodeon cartoon series, THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL will enthrall children and parents alike this summer at BDT STAGE. 

      When on Broadway this show tied with MEAN GIRLS for the most (12) nominations at the 2019 Tony Awards ceremony. Having become such a national pop culture hit, many artists were thrilled to write music for the show. Panic at the Disco, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, They Might Be Giants and more, created songs for this show that really Rock! The production also secured the rights to use “No Control,” a David Bowie/Brian Eno number.

     The story involves the ever-optimistic SpongeBob and his quirky band of friends in the undersea world of Bikini Bottom.  As our story begins, the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom discover that Mount Humungous, a nearby volcano, is going to erupt and wipe out their world within 48 hours. Our hero decides that he must mobilize his friends and neighbors to prevent this disaster from occurring.

      Boulder/Denver favorite Alicia K. Meyers, who directs the show also plays the local news reporter, Perch Perkins. Director Meyers has cast the show with true expertise, as well as bringing in the usual excellent techies at BDT STAGE. 

     Wayne Kennedy’s expertise with Sound Design even extends into a just off stage foley artist gig, which enhances the show with numerous sound effects. Kennedy also narrates the proceedings.

     Upon entering the dining area theatregoers are regaled with an enormous goldfish bowl – one of several wondrous projections by Tom Quinn. Flanking the bowl there are numerous nautical tools. Wooden posts and rope figure prominently in M. Curtis Gritner’s scenic design, indicating that we, as audience are just inside the pier that overlooks Bikini Bottom.   

    Linda Morken’s ingeniously mismatched and super-colorful costume design is delightful.

     Brett Maughan’s lighting design is his usual professional work.

     Music Director Neal Dunfee conducts the world class BDT orchestra magnificently. Mary Dailey contributes her excellent skills as Vocal Director.

     

The menu is as great as ever!!! Try the delicious Tuna Poke as hors d’oevre! It’s yellow fin ahi tuna dressed in sesame, tamari, green onion and cucumber, served with rice puff chips. Deelish.

     My guest for the evening enjoyed the Chicken Cordon Bleu and yours truly sampled the Chef’s Special. On this evening it was Osso Bucco! Absolutely Divine!!!

     And don’t forget the award-winning key lime pie for dessert!

 

Get over to BDT STAGE and experience this entertaining evening of musical theatre. You’ll be glad you did!!!

 

 

For tickets call the Box Office at 303-449-6000 or go online at bdtstage.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

 BLACKADEMICS

VINTAGE THEATRE: MAY 20 – JUNE 19



L-R: Chelsea Frye,Stephanie Saltis and Tobi Johnson-Compton (Photo credit: RDG Photography)

 BLACKADEMICS is a brilliant example of edgy absurdist comedy dealing with white supremacy and layered with dark satire. 

     At the start of Idris Goodwin’s play two female African American educators arrive at a special restaurant at which they have reserved a table. Their dinner is to be a celebratory one, and the two women are famished. Once they’ve both arrived there seems to be no way out. 

     Ann appears first. The usual restaurant furnishings being absent, she takes out her phone and begins checking her mail.  Shortly thereafter, Georgia, the white waitress, arrives, introducing herself, and taking Ann’s phone. Georgia assures her that it will be returned after the meal.

     Not long after the waitress disappears, Rachelle arrives.  Both Ann and Rachelle greet each other and then begin to wonder why the restaurant has no furnishings. There is a lot of banter between the two guests regarding their experiences in the world of academia, which is punctuated periodically by the arrival and disappearance of the smarmy, waiter.

      When the waiter brings in a table and/or chair, the two women compete for a chance to sit down.

       What started as a cozy meeting, becomes a raucous battle of wits, punctuated intermittently by the unsettling arrival and disappearance of the waiter.

        What started as a seemingly pleasant evening dissolves into one of “endurance cuisine.” 

       One hesitates to say more about the action, so as not to give too many spoilers.

       Let me just say that Mr. Goodwin’s play may cause the theatregoer to reflect on Sartre’s NO EXIT, where Hell is other people, and Bunuel’s award-winning screenplay for THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, where it’s nearly impossible to have dinner. 

      Tobi Johnson-Compton is an affecting, slightly stuffy Ann.  Chelsea Frye is delightfully exuberant as Rachelle, the woman from Omaha. Stephanie Saltis is just right as the insufferably arrogant and annoying waiter.

      One hopes to see all three of these women onstage again soon.

     Phil Cope’s scenic design, which transcends minimalist, is superb.

     Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s costume design is her usual professional work.

 

     Director Betty Hart is at the top of her game here. Hart’s ability to get this cast to unveil so many levels of Mr. Goodwin’s rich, disturbing text, is remarkable. Her directorial concept may well be:

Racism has consequences.

 

May 20 – June 19

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

$20-$34
303-856-7830 or online at 
www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 8001

1 hour - no intermission.