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