A Singer’s Notes 82: Ondine and King Lear

Much credit must be given to Theatre Company of Hubbard Hall’s John Hadden for putting up an “Ondine” that was not an exercise in nostalgia. There was also an excellent kind of sharp energy in the Ondine of Autumn Hausthor. This was not a passive immortal, but a quirky, even annoying, young creature. Her performance flavored the whole production. I also was invested in the performance of Gino Costabile, who did all of his roles, especially The Old One, convincingly. Maizy Scarpa was a model of versatility as Hans, all again with a kind of sharp insouciance that kept the play from sentimentalizing.  Best of all, as so often, was Doug Ryan as the King. Ryan has a true comic gift in which we see the tears behind the laughter, the pathos in the one-liners. He did a superb job of portraying the King’s sad bewilderment and also his kindness. Mr. Ryan’s performance, brief as it is, is well worth the trip to Cambridge, NY.

A Singer’s Notes 58: Music in the Theatre

“We Are Women: A Bernstein Cabaret”, a concert of Leonard Bernstein’s songs in The Colonial was one of the two or three best things I have heard this summer. Many thanks to the Berkshire Theatre Group for giving this to us. Here were four singers – here were four actors. I have rarely seen such a finished understanding of how one kind of vocalism becomes another. With the excellent Michael Barrett on piano, Alan R. Kay on clarinet, and John Feeney on contrabass, we heard a great deal of one of the maestro’s finest compositions, “Trouble in Tahiti”, and a superior selection from other shows. The songs were introduced by Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein. There was not too much talking. All was natural as if the songs were new-minted. Each of the singers made a comprehensive narrative of the material and seemed to be singing it before they made any sound, and long after. This concert wasn’t a succession of excerpts, but searing moments that also had naturalness. I wish each of my students could have heard this concert.

A Singer’s Notes 57: Just Plain Good

Sometimes you want to go into the theatre to have fun, to have sweetness, to hear a song you know, to listen to the ease of the artists. I saw this in three splendid evenings late in the summer. Two of these were at Barrington Stage. “See How They Run” was technically superb. The hijinks and gags worked like a well-oiled machine, never a hitch. This farce is particularly endearing if you know Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”. Bitter-sweet references to Coward’s play keep it grounded in some kind of reality which is lyrical. I love a good gag. A gag well-executed is an artistic triumph.

A Singer’s Notes 50: Listening to King Lear

Dr. Johnson famously refused to re-read the play for some years, remarking that it “did not keep faith with the chronicles” referring, I suppose, to an older play on the same subject. Shakespeare’s alterations were radical. Cordelia’s death is the issue. Nahum Tate saves her, and his version ruled the English stage for decades. These days it is either the bleak version where all hope is banished, or what critics quaintly call the Christianizing version. Like today’s pols, it’s one or the other; the middle lies empty. But there is a middle, very possibly a transcendent one. We have already seen the end of Shakespeare’s Lear twice, first in Pericles, and then The Winter’s Tale. Check the Quarto text of King Lear and you will read that music is called for in the awakening scene of Act 4 – just as Paulina does in the corresponding place in Winter’s Tale. Is there a chance the playwright is out to show that Lear’s so-called hallucinations in his final moments are true vision? This is not bringing a statue back to life – a statue that never died. This is seeing a dead person in a new life. Was this a deliberate challenge the playwright set himself – nothing less than all from nothing? Can we believe it? Was the dying King Lear the only one with the ears to hear? And finally the eyes to see? Is his own awakening scene a dress rehearsal for the promised end? Why are we so willing to deny Lear’s seeing? He himself tests it, puts the glass up to her nostrils. He despairs, but this is not the finality. The finality is open. “It is required you do awake your faith,” as Paulina says in Winters TalePace Dr. Johnson, maybe the old faith is kept, just not shown – forcing the imagination still further, the way that music brings us to the edge of the thing and we hear it in the silence after. Kelly Galvin’s Cordelia made us hear this every time she spoke, gave us an assurance of it. Her speaking was partner to her silence.

An audience many years ago

Audience Misbehavior: Everyone Wants To Get In On The Act

They looked like a normal Broadway audience, these adults attending a matinee of Seminar. Then ten minutes into the play, when Alan Rickman, the star, made his entrance, they went berserk—screaming as if he were Professor Snape, his Harry Potter film character, instead of an actor on stage—and stopped the show in the middle of a tense scene.

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com