Hamlet at the Capital Rep

A Singer’s Notes 108: To be or not to be, that is the question

This most famous quote, precariously balanced, elevates the word question to existential status. Hamlet is a play of questions. Could Gertrude following hard after, have saved Ophelia from drowning? Did Hamlet ever love Ophelia? Is the ghost real? There is a glimmer of hope—Hamlet lets us know very clearly that if he had more time, being blessed finally with the proximity of death and its widening of perception, he could tell us more. Perhaps he could answer some of these questions.

Georga Osborn as Lorence Foster Jenkins and Jonas Cohen as her accompanist, Cosmé McMoon. Photo Douglas C. Liebig.

A Singer’s Notes 105: Florence Foster Jenkins Rides Again! Stephen Temperley’s Souvenir at the Capital Rep

It is the music that matters,” says Florence Foster Jenkins in Stephen Temperley’s Souvenir at Capital Rep in Albany. This superbly performed show is a feast of vocal mayhem. Not only is Mrs. Jenkins convinced that her singing has great value, but so are we. In fact, it is awful. Painfully bad. After a long search for an appropriate accompanist, one who can stand to listen to her, she finally finds her man. He somehow survives the initial shock when she cuts loose in their first rehearsal together, and is slowly, painfully, convinced of the value and, in fact, the beauty, of the soprano’s belief in herself.

The Secret Garden at the Capital Rep

A Singer’s Notes 101: Except ye become as children …

My weekend has been dominated by children, their thoughts, and my thoughts about them. Charles Dickens, a passionate admirer of little ones, finds his most searing location for them in his beloved A Christmas Carol. Even the death of Little Dorrit lacks the resonance that this short novella has shown. The attachment with Christmas is clearly one reason, but the theatrical bent of the writing, reflecting Dickens’ passionate interest in acting, begs for a physical realization. Version after version has hardened us to the difficulty of undertaking such a task. Prose on the page is very different from words on the stage. Dickens cushions speech in each of his novels with plenty of before and after richness, passionate in its empathy for their plight.

A Singer’s Notes 41: To Dream the Impossible Dream: Man of La Mancha at Capital Rep

Man of La Mancha is manifestly a show which tries to convert. It is not a simple narrative, though its main functional device is story-telling. It seeks to do no less than convince.  It is as close to polemic as musical theatre gets.  It must succeed in doing this, or it has not worked. Capital Rep’s new production of this classic musical is fully professional. It is well-cast, musically inventive, and consistently well-paced. Kevin McGuire in the title role has more than a touch of Falstaff in his portrayal. He seemed almost bewildered as Cervantes in prison, and then by turns, tired, rueful, and very human, portraying Don Quixote. He did not hog the stage; often he was the quietest presence on the stage. His singing did not set out to command, but to move. I could imagine a more bravura performance, but Mr. McGuire’s was direct and convincing.

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