THEATER REVIEW: Mac-Haydn ‘Sweeney Todd’ deftly navigates dark tale

Sweeney Todd / Mac-Haydn Theatre

THOU SHALT NOT EAT thy fellow man. That’s in the Bible, isn’t it? No?

“Sweeney Todd” is a morality tale shaped by the musical theater genius of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. It makes the eating your fellow man entertaining, laughable–even palatable. (Oh dear.) That is, when it is not terrifying you or quietly or noisily inviting you to look at something darkly true.

But the important music-thing and theater-thing is Sondheim. Sondheim is beyond good. I predict that his late-20th century work will still be savored and revered by your great-, great-grandchildren. And you’re in luck! At Mac-Haydn Theater there is a wonderful production.

Before I describe the wonderfulness, let me go quickly through my few carps. 1) The actors portraying the young lovers (Johanna and Anthony) have no sexual chemistry. When they repeatedly sing “Kiss me,” it could easily be “please pass the oatmeal.” 2) And when the young Anthony sings, “I feel you, Johanna,” it seems as if his attention is glued to his own (very good) voice rather than to her charms. 3) The jiggly movement in the vocal technique of Kelly Gabrielle Murphy as Johanna is tremolo rather than vibrato, a defect that may be related to her occasional pitch problems. 4) The extended gyrations of the ensemble in the lunatic scene make the audience uncertain about whether to shrink in horror—or laugh. 5) In spite of their excellent singing, the actors playing Judge Turpin and Tobias may be age-miscast, the former being too young and the latter not young enough. Read more…

THEATER REVIEW: Barn brings new life to antique by Christie

“Spider’s Web”/ Theater Barn

ONCE AGAIN IT’S AGATHA CHRISTIE time at the Theater Barn! You already expect the period Brits and the trips down plotty garden paths (with their multiple dead ends). And the houses. Ah yes, the houses.

At the Barn, the set for this large country house is a spacious room with imposing hunter-green walls. The walls are so richly painted that you could pet them, or perhaps wade in them. Those, plus French doors, secret and regular doors, a lovely Empire sofa, and a small desk are the main set-tools of the action.

Because this house is supposed to have been the home of an antiques dealer, one may have hoped for more impressive antiques, especially the desk that looms so large in the story. (People keep rifling in it searching for ?) Read more…

THEATER REVIEW: ‘Anything goes’ delightfully delivered at Mac-Haydn

“Anything Goes” / Mac-Haydn Theatre

“ANYTHING GOES.” Really? Anything? The main things that go and come in productions of this musical are Cole Porter songs. It is amazing how the composer’s tunes and lyrics can be axed or added without materially disturbing the flow of the piece. I guess the vaudeville-era tradition of low jokes and loosely connected, lively songs was still around when “Anything Goes” was created. In this version, the song choices are mostly traditional and happy-making. “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-lovely,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” are almost indestructible.

In the Mac-Haydn production, lots of them get the super-good singing of Angela Travino as Reno Sweeney. Her ability to give a phrase meaning, shape and nuance, especially in the verses that precede choruses, is a very good thing. The singing of that role can easily slip into unpleasant, raw belting, but Travino would never.

Singers who can act are to be treasured, and the easy personhood of her work is typical of the actors’ approach in this production. Director Robin Levine apparently has made the choice: avoid most of the schticky stuff that the material seems to beg for; and the actors know how to execute. Read more…

Coarc artists show work at Omi

GHENT – Omi International Arts Center celebrated its long-time partnership with Coarc on Friday, May 19, with a reception in the Omi education pavilion. Artists, friends and families gathered to admire a salon-style wall of pictures of great quality and variety.

Omi’s Director of Education Sasha Sicurella said that the project is a reminder of Omi’s efforts to increase accessibility and outreach to everybody in the community. This year there were over forty participants, double last year’s enrollment and the most ever. This year Ms. Sicurella recruited people from more Coarc centers in Hudson, Mellenville, Dayhab Without Walls and self-directed services in addition to Evergreen Hall in Valatie where the project started. Read more…

THEATER REVIEW: Strong cast wrings hearty laughs from witty ‘Rumors’

THEATER REVIEW:Rumors’ / The Two of Us Productions / Taconic Hills School District Performing Arts Center, Craryville
IT IS NOT NEWS that human beings want to, need to, must laugh. Laughing is up there with survival stuff like food, shelter and sex. Sophisticated wit is good for it. Intellectually tinted satire or dark irony can be satisfying.
But occasionally, into each life, some unadulterated silliness must fall. Best to lean back, open arms and get drenched.
The Two of us Productions (Connie Lopez and Steve Sanborn) has mounted the 1988 Neil Simon
confection “Rumors” with an attractive cast of grownups. The grownups, dressed (mostly) in spiffy black formal wear, inhabit an elegant beige, brown and white room. They are waiting to partake of a
dinner/celebration. The room has three white doors and a pair of French ones to telegraph the news that a farce may ensue.

Read more…