Antonio Saileri (Scott C. Brown) gloats as he succeeds in making Mozart (Bryan K. Bender) pout in the current Lakewood Playhouse production of “Amadeus.” Photo by Dean Lapin
Lakewood Playhouse’s current production is “Amadeus,” Peter Shaffer’s not too historically accurate account of the jealous love/hate relationship Antonio Salieri had for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and God.
In the late 1700s, Salieri was a renowned composer whose music was lauded to be the best of his era. He held the post of Court Composer for Austrian Emperor Joseph II. However, Salieri’s only desire was to glorify God with his music.
Then he met Mozart, the 25-year-old child-like genus capable of composing complete operatic manuscripts to perfection – in his head.
Although enamored by his talent, Salieri was likewise completely demoralized by it. His near insane jealousy drove him to condemn God for granting the talent he begged for to another, thus, he vowed to destroy the holder of his admiration and challenge his lifelong relationship with his God.
Erin Chanfrau’s set design is simplistically stunning. A raised, ornate cross stands alone as a center thrust in the intimate theatre. Nestled along one side of the longer leg is a pianoforte with a bench. A chandelier hangs above the center of the cross. Thus, Salieri, the self-accused cause of Mozart’s untimely end, lives upon the cross of redemption he must bear.
Alex Lewington’s costume design is wonderfully detailed and authentic as usual.
Director Scott Campbell is at his best in the staging of this complicated production. Much in the style of the Japanese Noh Theatre property men, Campbell uses the supernumeraries in the cast of 17 to dress the various sections of the lower stage surrounding the cross creating different rooms.
Most of these seven actors have no lines, however, their characterization is so well done it is hard to not forget that they are actors, not citizens of the era. James Thomas Patrick is Kapellmeister Bonno; Alex Lewington is Salieri’s wife; Homer Ozyazicioglu plays his Valet; Rolly Opsahl is his Major Domo; Leigh Duncan and Virginia Yanoff, his servants; and Gary B. Lichty, Salieri’s Cook, who indulges him with unbelievable confectionaries.
Brie Yost is soprano Katherina Cavalieri who offers flirtatious glances to all the men of music. Lauren Wood is Constanze Weber, Mozart’s wife. She is charming and bawdy as she bounces on and off stage willing to do anything to help her husband.
Steve Tarry as Emperor Joseph II carries himself with the proper aplomb the role demands; his casual “And there it is” when he finds himself with nothing more to add before making his exit puts a definite end to each scene in which he appears.
The Emperor is usually accompanied on stage with one or more members of his entourage, which include a very proper George McGilliard as the Prefect of the Imperial Library; Keith Eisner, Director of the Imperial Opera and Randy Clark, Groom of the Imperial Chamber. All true yes men are eager to agree with the Emperor that Mozart’s music has “too many notes” in it and any other of his whims.
Jamie Pederson and Darrel Shepard are the Venticello who are much akin to the chorus of Greek Theatre. The two charming fops command the stage each time they appear offering a comic relief as they bound onto the stage with the latest news; they act the perfect foils for Salieri’s plans.
Bryan K. Bender is Mozart in all his infantile charm. He unknowingly relishes it when he out classes his supposed friend in composition never suspecting that he has driven yet another wedge between them. Bender’s moods switch from lovable little boy to musical genius to pouting child at the drop of a baton. His performance would be hard to beat.
However, without a doubt, Scott C. Brown’s Salieri does beat it. In fact, one is hard pressed to remember that this is not a one-man show since he is on stage from first curtain to mere seconds to final lights out. Brown dominates the stage as he dominates Salieri and presents a true Tour de Force performance.
This is a long play, with the one intermission about two hours and 45 minutes. However, the time passes quickly due to the acting prowess exhibited by all the cast members.
“Amadeus” continues at The Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, next to the Pierce Transit Depot, through April 22 each Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.; there is also a Pay-What-You-Can performance scheduled for Thursday, April 5 and an Actor’s Benefit performance on Thursday, April 12 at 8 p.m.
For more information or to make reservations call the theatre at (253) 588-0042 or go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.
And, as Joseph II would say, “There it is!”