Posts Tagged Cathleen King

The Threepenny Opera – Play Review


Virgil Thomson has called Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” “one of century’s most powerful creations” and Bob Dylan said about the music “I was aroused straightaway by the raw intensity of the songs”.  Powerful lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, were originally set to music by composer, Kurt Weill and it was Elisabeth Hauptmann who maintained the raw intensity of the lyrics when originally translating them into English.  The translation of the dialogs and lyrics for this production was done by Robert MacDonald and Jeremy Sams.  It is absolutely incredible that the musical that was originally produced in Germany, in 1928, as a scathing social and political critique about the clash of the haves and the have-nots, echoes true today.

SJStage_TheThreepennyOpera2On the sidewalk, one Sunday mornin’ 
Lies a body oozin’ life 
Someone’s sneaking ’round the corner 
Could that someone, perhaps, perchance, be Mack the Knife?
You betcha!!

Tattoo covered Jonny Moreno, as Macheath, with the words HUSTLER tattooed on his chest, is the fierce king of the 1930s Berlin’s underbelly, where the women admire him and cops make deals with him.  Moreno’s acting is fantastic and his voice commands respect.  The bagger king Peachum also runs his little kingdom where he trains the baggers on concocting tales of woes, to generate maximum sympathy from the donors.  No one can bag on his turf without prior permission from Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, who get a commission from all bagger earnings.  Paul Myrvold and Susan Gundunas last seen together at The Stage, in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, are fabulous as colorful Peachums.  With all the respective turfs well defined, there is a functional system that keeps things organized, up to a point.  But in the end, Macheath’s undoing happens because of the women.  With two wives and his visits to the whore house, his women love him and hate him, in equal measure.  Monique Hafen is fabulous in the role of innocent Polly Peachum (the bagger king’s daughter).  She marries Macheath, unaware of his prior marriage and other passing interests.  Halsey Varady as astute heroin shooting druggie, Jenny Diver, is superb. SjStage_TheThreepennyOpera3

Director Kenneth Kelleher, Musical Director Richard Marriott and Vocal Director, Allison F. Rich have done a marvelous job in capturing the underbelly of 1930s city streets of Europe, where alliances shift rapidly and the downtrodden have their own code for survival, where you gotta watch your own back.

This absolutely spell binding performance is undoubtedly “not to miss” play of this quarter.  Kudos to Artistic Director, Randall King and Executive Director, Cathleen King for bringing such evocative, edgy, intense productions to San Jose Stage.   For tickets, go to http://www.thestage.org.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Red – Play Review


John Logan’s Tony Award-winning play Red, directed by Kenneth Kelleher, gives us a peak into the soul and the genius of artist Mark Rothko, brilliantly played by Randall King.  In conversations with his apprentice, an aspiring painter Ken, amazingly played by Aaron Wilton, Rothko pontificates on those he considers lesser artists like Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, and on the nature of patrons who look at paintings and call them “nice”.   “Conflicted. Nuanced. Troubled. Diseased. Doomed. I am not fine. We are not fine. We are anything but fine,” says Rothko.  He considers his paintings as his eternal companions.  He says, “A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer.  It dies by the same token.  It is therefore risky to send it out into the world.  How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent.”

Rothko is commissioned by an expensive and exclusive Four Seasons restaurant to paint a group of murals for its magnificent walls. On his first day on the job, Ken arrives as an eager young man in suit, ready to learn and willing to do whatever it takes.  But over time, as Ken listens to Rothko’s put downs, his vainglorious and self-obsessive assertions about his work, Ken increasingly begins to question Rothko’s motives, his art, even his genius.  Rothko is most shaken by the fact that despite his arrogant and self-obsessive bragging, his paintings are up for sale, to be hung in the most consumerist establishment.   The play is also a reflection on the mentor protégée relationship.  The two men go back and forth in the game of power, with grouchy, arrogant, aging Rothko firmly holding on to his assertions and younger naive but determined Ken insisting that reality is changing and Rothko is not in touch with even his own underlying motives.  Gradually, a tug of war ensues with Ken emerging as winning their war of words.

Come and see for yourself what happens when this artist who has spent his life assailing the commercial consumerism of the establishment, now faces the crisis of conscience.  Red is playing at the beautiful theater “The Stage” www.thestage.org , in San Jose.  Stage is set to be the studio of Mark Rothko with hanging murals in rich tapestry of colors that glow with the change in lighting, from shiny and grand to more intimate and human.  Kudos to Cathleen King, the Executive Director, for bringing this bold play, at The Stage.

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: