Theater Review: See and hear ‘Amadeus’ at NCC Theatre
It’s good to revisit the classics of theater. “Amadeus,” written by Peter Shaffer, is certainly a classic.
The Northampton Community College Theatre production of “Amadeus,” through Oct. 23, Lipkin Theatre, Green Pond Campus, Bethlehem Township, merits revisiting for several reasons.
The production of “Amadeus,” which opens the NCC Theatre 2019-2020 season, is beautifully-directed by William Mutimer with several commendable performances by students and a veteran Lehigh Valley regional theater performer.
While the play is called “Amadeus,” it could be called “Salieri” because Antonio Salieri (1750 - 1825), court rival in the play to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791), has most of the best lines. Of course, villains usually provide the juiciest roles. Salieri, as written by Shaffer in his 1981 Tony Award-winning play (and 1984 theatrical motion picture), is certainly the villain.
“Amadeus,” said to be a very fictionalized account about Mozart, Salieri and their interactions, is based on Alexander Pushkin’s 1830 play, “Mozart and Salieri,” which provided the libretto for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1897 opera.
An unexpected bonus of the NCC Theatre “Amadeus” production is a lovely quartet, which performs the music of Mozart and Salieri during, prior to, at intermission and afterwards.
The performance by Kyle Hummel, flute-clarinet; Takeshi Hirochi, violin; Ellen Hospado, cello, and Lucille DeMasi Kincaid, the production’s music director, harpsichord, piano, is superb and puts the emphasis on Mozart’s music (“The Marriage of Figaro,” “Don Giovanni,” “Così fan tutte,” “Requiem Mass in D minor”), which is at the center of Shaffer’s stratagem in the thought-provoking script.
What is genius? Where does inspiration come from? Is there a relationship between worship of God, or spiritual belief, and creativity?
To hear Salieri tell it, the answer to the latter question, which is the fulcrum on which the play pivots, would be a resounding “No.”
Barry Glassman, as Antonio Salieri, doesn’t waste any words in setting the record straight from Salieri’s point of view, in the opening night, Oct. 17, performance seen for this review.
Glassman is in fine form, bookending the production, with a frail and near-death Salieri at the beginning and end of the play, and striding the stage confidently in between, with direct-address to the audience, asides and explanations that illuminate Salieri’s distorted if fascinating take on the genius in his presence.
Glassman is ever-riveting in the performance, convincing in a portrayal that at once creates sympathy and disdain for Salieri, who pretends to help Mozart when he’s actually creating great harm.
Jake Geske is quite remarkable as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He’s a bundle of energy, all staccato speech, frantic yammering and high-pitched squeals of laughter.
Jessika Boxley as Constance Weber, Mozart’s wife, is winsome, coquettish and an oasis of calm in a fine performance.
Hannah Cummings as Katherina Cavalieri is in excellent voice in the play’s one vocal number.
Other noteworthy performances include: Grace Miscianga (Teresa Salieri) George McKenzie (Emperor Joseph II), Akash Verma (Count Johan Killian van Strack), Jonah Padula (Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg), Danny Garcia (Baron Gottfried van Swieten), Ryan Patrick Allen (Venticello No. 1), Kevin Hernandez (Venticello No. 2), Connor Knowlan (Major-Domo), Jacob Adams (Salieri’s Valet), Stephen Simone (Salieri’s Cook) and Matthew Bright (Giuseppe Bonno).
D. Polly Kendrick has created wonderful gowns for the females and impressive waistcoats, pants and coats for the males in a variety of hues for all. Kim Danish’s fanciful wigs complete the look.
Scenic and Lighting Designer and Technical Director Brett Oliveira, at times, bathes the large stage in swathes of blue for twilight and gold for morning, and utilizes props, such as chairs, desks and a harpsichord, which are brought on and off-stage efficiently, against a huge backdrop of two open pages of sheet music of a work by Mozart.
For fans of Mozart, classical music and Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” the NCC Theatre production is worth seeing, and hearing.
Tickets: Lipkin Theatre Box Office, Northampton Community College, Main Campus, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township; ncctix.org; 484-484-3412