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The Duluth Playhouse put on an excellent performance of Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus last Saturday evening. I will say I’ve only seen the 1984 film, so I’m not sure if the changes to the story were the work of Director Julie Ahasay or if this is how the original play went. The main changes were a shift from a focus on Mozart’s music to a focus on Salieri’s bargain with God. Also the use of the “messenger” in Act II was changed from being Salieri’s disguise to being a nightmare haunting Mozart. The changes definitely worked for the subtle change in plot direction.
Opening with Salieri’s “little birds” talking about the latest town gossip in a quick back-and-forth manner, we’re quickly given the stories time and premise. The story is presented as Salieri, on the last night of his life, summons the “ghosts of those yet to be born” to tell his story to. The house lights quickly rose in the theatre as the audience are these “ghosts”. Most of Act I went off splendidly. A few stumbles on lines here and there, but generally it seemed to go off without a hitch.
Salieri was also the narrator of the story. The addition of this narration (in comparison to the 1984 film) was a genius inclusion. It opened up a few comedic points in an otherwise rather sad play, which Rob Larson executed perfectly. Narration also allowed the story to be condensed a bit, though for a time in Act II it felt a little too rushed.
Of the cast, Luke Moravec as Mozart and Cheryl Skafte as his wife Constanze truly stood out. Cheryl Skafte was absolutely perfect as Constanze; the attitude, the character quirks, everything. She even looked nearly identical to the actress in the 1984 film from my seat in the audience. Mozart took a while to grow on me, but Luke Moravec nailed that annoying childish giggle perfectly. I was particularly impressed with how well he portrayed the transformation and torment Mozart was going through as he was sick throughout Act II. Rob Larson as Salieri and narrator for the evening I had mixed feelings about. While his acting was superb, the one thing that kept getting to me was his shouting of lines. He was always shouting when confronted with Mozart’s superior talent. I felt a lot of these points called for a more dramatic approach, with long drawn out lines representing awe and hopelessness. This led to a presentation of Salieri that was much angrier, more emotional than the character I envisioned as calm and rational.
The costumes were all excellently done. The coats and uniforms as well as wigs were all exactly what was called for. I would have like to see Mozart sport more than just the 2 wigs, especially in Act I though.
The sound is the only other thing that bothered me about the performance. It needed to be so much louder. Mozart’s music should have boomed through the theatre, not played at a monotone level. The Requiem at the end was given a little juice, but not half of what was called for.
All in all, it was definitely a show worth seeing. There were a few flaws, a few quirks about the presentation that hurt it for me, but none of those flaws were enough to change the fact that the cast and crew put on a truly excellent performance. The Duluth Playhouse’s production of Amadeus was a show that certainly inspired me to see more performances in the future.
Sounds really inspiring! The performance definitely worth seeing as I see. I really enjoy theater so I would definitely visit some of the upcoming events.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on February 21, 2012 1:41 PM.
The Miracle Worker - UMD Theatre was the previous entry in this blog.
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