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Subject: Oklahoma where the songs keep coming on the stage (8-11-17) --and the 2018 season!!
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 12 Aug 2017 09:38:05 -0400

text/plain (101 lines)

Our first mainstage performance this weekend was the wonderful Arena Stage production from DC, which we loved so much, reconfigured for Glimmerglass(it was in the square in DC) and here with a new team:

Conductor James Lowe
Director Molly Smith
Choreographer/Fight Choreographer: Parker Esse
Sets Eugene Lee
Costumes Ilona Somogyi
Lighting Robert Wierzel
Fight Choreography Supervisor Joe Isenberg
Hair & Makeup J. Jared Janas & Dave Bova
Projected Text Kelley Rourke

Laurey: Vanessa Becerra
Aunt Eller: Judith Skinner
Curly:Jarrett Ott
Jud Fry: Michael Hewitt
Ado Annie Carnes Emma Roos
Will Parker Michael Roach
Ali Hakim Dylan Morrongiello
Andrew Carnes: William Burden
Ike Skidmore: Conor McDonald
Cord Elam: Harry Greenleaf
Ellen: Mary Evelyn Hangley
Fred: Edward Graves
Slim : Andres Moreno GarciĀ­a
Gertie: Kayleigh Decker

Virginia: Mary Beth Nelson

Dorcas:Abigail Dock

Kate:Katrina Galka
Vivian: Alyssa Martin
Sam:Jarrett Porter
Mike: Tucker Reed Breder
Aggie: Shanel Bailey
Dream Laurey, Sylvie: Olivia Barbieri
Dream Curly, Jess: Ezekiel Edmonds
Wes/Swing:Aidan Kahl
Minnie/Swing: Anju Cloud
Joe: Joseph Leppek

George:Jonathan DeVries

Edward:Makoto Winkler

The first thing one must mention about Glimmerglass musicals is the amazingly huge and lush orchestra. Nowhere on earth can you have a complete run of over a dozen performances with a fully staged musical and have the luxury of 40-50 musicians in the pit! Secondly, the elimination of amplification makes this hark back to the original days of Broadway and how performers really use their voices to impress us; last night was no exception. While this production was a huge success at Arena Stage in DC, they never had it so good!

The set was modified to proscenium stage here with a back wall that had a section that went up and down to change from day to night. 

At the beginning it was a starry sky, which gave way to the dawn as Curly came down the aisle singing the opening lines. Below this was a tapestry-like miniature of houses, fields and more with tiny lights in them that I just adored. A small lit train went across the set at the rear as well, just before the singing began, almost implying that the developed industrial world had already breached its way into the Mid-West. The set pieces were rolled on and off easily by the cast as they were in DC and worked well, especially Jed's smoke house room, which was small enough to imply he was cramped, bit decorated perfectly to imply his state.

From the first acapella lines of "Oh what a beautiful morning..." we knew that Jarett Ott was perfectly cast as Curly; stature of body and voice, looks and his just plain perfect accent made him a winner. Add Vanessa Becerra's Laurey and you have two shining leads that just seemed to click electrically from the very beginning with "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," moving through "People Will Say We're In Love," and just never giving up the entire evening.

When the showed debuted in DC one of the starring elements was Parker Esse's choregography and it still shines here with a brilliant group of young artists filling most of the roles and making the show a true team effort.

Michael Hewitt's Jud was a different take right from the start. He did not seem mean or evil as the role is often portrayed, but more misunderstood, which I think we all agreed was a wonderful idea. In "Jud's Lament" he showed us that he can sing beautifully as well as act; indeed everyone's acting for this musical was of a truly superior quality. As he sang "rain in a storm" it seems the thunder let loose outside with a huge downpour (luckily it stopped by intermission).

Act II had the big party going with a roll-on outhouse in the middle of the stage, which a guy went into and ended up getting rolled offstage in! This Oklahoma has its serious moments indeed, but we must realize, for the most part, it is a lighthearted vehicle, and to that end Mr. Morrongiello's Ali Hakim was a treat of a character and always so well directed with the Ado Annie & Will of  Ms. Roos and Mr. Roach. Their "All or Nothing" was a true treat.

Speaking of treats, what luxury casting with Mr. Burden as Andrew Carnes, Ado Annie's stuck-up grumpy, but often funny, father.

At the height of Jud's angry bout with Laurey, Ms. Becerra actually spit right into his eye which quite astounded me, but indeed was brilliant directorially.

For folks who  like opera, Oklahoma isn't that far away from good operatic comedy, and boy what a treat to have such superb singing in this intimate setting. A truly perfect start to our weekend at Glimmerglass.

At the beginning of the performance Ms. Zambello alluded to new restrooms that accommodate more people (which we never did find) "that cost money...but more about that later." I hope she explains that today!

She also previewed the summer 2018 season which sounds amazing:

West Side Story

The Cunning Little Vixen

Barber of Seville

Silent Night and much more....

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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