Presented by Moonbox Productions
By Peter Shaffer
Directed/choreographed by Allison Olivia Choat
Music direction by Dan Rodriguez
Period music consultation by Thomas Carroll
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Moonbox’s Amadeus is a delightful tragedy. Tragic because Mozart dies. Also tragic because playwright Shaffer likes to hear his own words spoken aloud. It’s made a delight by the elegant, classically lined staging by Choat, and the performances from the cast.
Amadeus is about the fictional rivalry between court Kapellmeister Antonio Salieri (Matthew Zahnzinger) and asshole savant, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Cody Sloan). It’s a conceit for Shaffer’s rivalry with his twin brother… Upon hearing Mozart’s works, Salieri comprehends his own obsoleteness. Mozart will reach in his short lifetime an apogee of genius of which Salieri could only dream. Pious, devoted servant of God Salieri, realizing his absolute mediocrity, turns from glory and makes his life’s mission Mozart’s demise. Mozart’s fall is played out to a portfolio of his greatest hits.
The cast has amazing stamina. Their work is upheld in several ways. The only actor that must remain on stage a majority of the production is Zahnzinger. Shaffer grants every other actor’s character many reprieves. Still, the endurance of the cast is impressive.
Secondly, the music in this production is all prerecorded by Grand Harmonie Orchestra. Cast members are free to focus on their acting while the lovely music is piped in. I highly suggest this production to classical music enthusiasts for the recordings alone.
Shockingly even the aria excerpts are pre-recorded. The decision to use recordings in this instance is curious because recording vocalist Katie O’Reilly plays Katherina Cavalieri. It is very strange that O’Reilly, who has no lines except for her sung aria excerpts, lipsyncs to her own recording. This practice is off-putting. It’s a shame that O’Reilly doesn’t perform live.
Anyone familiar with Zahnzinger’s voice work knows that he can make the most dull of texts brilliant. His portrayal of Salieri is no different. His age and Italian accent work are excellent. Salieri’s descent from righteous court musician to deadened villain is griping. Jealousy is a hell of a drug.
Supporting actors Sloan and Caroline Keeler (as Constanze Weber) share the stage with Zahnzinger but do not successfully claim it from him. Their performances as ostentatious but pure of heart Mozart, and overwhelmed, industrious Constanze are strong but their chemistry is weak. To clarify, they perform admirably, make strong choices but their onstage relationship isn’t that of a husband and wife team. It’s close but not quite there.
The costume and wig work are exemplary. This is the kind of design that professional and fringe theatres should aspire to. Katherina’s super fluffy concert wig encompasses the epitome of ridiculous luxury. Mozart’s pink rockstar wig is classy AF.
The BCA’s buzzing light system is distracting. It really messes with somber moments. This is true for other shows at the BCA, but was made especially prominent during this one.
Amadeus is a three and a half hour show. It is roughly the length of an opera, give or take. Please do not attempt to attend without considering your patience for opera, prolonged sitting, and narcissism. Script issues aside, the performances in Amadeus are mostly excellent and well worth the time to attend.
We have elected a tangerine ass-bugle bigot with scrawny hands and terrible hair to the office of the President. The theatre community has every reason to be scared that the national budget for the arts will be slashed. It will be. Certain republicans tend to disrespect experimental, avant-garde, or simply new art. If it challenges the white, straight, hetero status quo, they tend to be against it. New things frighten them with their difference. Belts will need to be tightened. For the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating your art despite this painful bullshit. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. Please keep fighting the good fight. – KD
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