Posts Tagged Halsey Varady

Bonnie & Clyde – A Musical

At the height of the Great Depression, between 1910 and 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow rose from being Texas nobodies to becoming lovers, thrill seekers, folk heroes, criminals, and FBI’s “most wanted”.   The musical “Bonnie & Clyde” at San Jose Stage, is based on the book by Ivan Menchell, and electrifying lyrics are by Don Black, with music by Frank Wildhorn.

The cast is fabulous.  Allison F. Rich and Cliff McCormick in the role of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are superb as America’s fascinating outlaws.  As Bonnie & Clyde leave Texas, their robberies and crime spree spreads through Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Missouri, killing at least 13 people.  Their prophetic lyrics point to the nature of things to come.

Clyde & Bonnie
We are wasted ’round here
We’re too good for this place.
We weren’t born to live
And die in Texas!
This is my plan- there’s no plan B
And this world will remember me.
You and this world will remember me!

Bonnie is not the only one lured by the picture or riches & luxury painted by Clyde.   Bonnie is not the only one keen to loose her “egg-stained apron”, yearning for “somethin made of satin”.  Not long after Bonnie & Clyde embark on the adventure of crime and its rewards, they are joined by Clyde’ brother Buck Barrow (Will Springhorn), as he ignores all warnings from his wife Blanche Barrow (Halsey Varady).

The barrow brothers together enjoyed the brief stint of crime and adventure, before all  hell broke loose.

Clyde & Buck Barrow
We are the heroes who
The people look up to
And brother that feels great

Director, Michael Navarrta and Musical Director, Allison F. Rich, along with the entire creative team have done a fantastic job of recreating this drama, that in the words of Garland Thompson, “really wants to be a movie”.  Special shoutout to Projections Designer, Garland Thompson, Videographer Chris Eldridge, and Stage Manager, Jason Nall for seamlessly blending in video projections with the set, to make this adventure come alive.  As Bonnie and Clyde and their gang, escape from captivity, evade the police, and keep jumping the state lines, the video projections as backdrops add meaningful information, and are vivid and imaginative.

Don’t miss this show that will take you on an unforgettable journey of crime and adventure.  As Randall King, the Artistic Director says, “This is the perfect way to close out the season with guns-a-blazing”.  This show will be running at The Stage in San Jose, now through July, 27.  For tickets and other information, go to

English: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, somet...

English: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, sometime between 1932 and 1934, when their exploits in Arkansas included murder, robbery, and kidnapping. Contrary to popular belief the two never married. They were in a long standing relationship. Posing in front of an early 1930s Ford V-8 automobile. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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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

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Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” – Play Review

Persuasion by Jane Austen – Play Review

Jane Austen's Persuasion

Beginning April 3, San Jose Stage Company is showing Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”, adapted by local Bay Area playwright, Jennifer Le Blanc and directed by Kenneth Kelleher.  In the words of Randall King, Artistic Director of the San Jose Stage Company, “The intimate setting of The Stage venue is the perfect environment to revel in Miss Austen’s characters, who must negotiate a complex code of conduct in order to survive, much less achieve their ends.  The story is indicative of Austen’s great talent, razor sharp, laced with irony and wit, and remarkably phrased.”

Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, who allowed herself to be “persuaded” to end her engagement with Captain Wentworth, a man she loved, but one without fortune.  Maryssa Wanlass, in the role of Anne Elliot, is beautiful, calm, cerebral, poised, and graceful.  In the opening scene, she second guesses her earlier decision about Captain Wentworth, and confides to her guardian, Lay Russell, “But I am now persuaded that in spite of the disapproval at home and the anxiety attending his prospects that I… I should have been happier, had I…”  Jane Austen was unhappy about the level of persuasion employed by the society, on young people, particularly young women, regarding their marital choices.  It is ironical that matronly and kind Lady Russell (played by Susan Gundunas), appears to be the only voice of maturity and reason, in the family, while she was in fact the reason Anne had first rejected Captain Wentworth.

As for Anne Elliott’s father, “Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation.”  Paul Myrvold does a superb job in the role of Sir Walter Elliot and later as Admiral Croft.  Mrs. Mary Musgrove, (played by Halsey Varady), Anne Elliot’s younger sister, is nervous, fretful woman, fortunate to marry Charles Musgrove (very well played by William J. Brown III).   While Anne was looking after her sister Mary, Captain Wentworth (superbly played by Will Springhorn Jr.), reenters her life.  Everyone around Anne and Captain Wentworth, including Charles Musgrove, his sisters Louisa and Henrietta (Juliet Heller & Allison F. Rich), and his mother (Donna Federico) are completely unaware of their earlier relationship and the emotional turmoil brewing inside Anne and her love.  While Captain Wentworth is occupied by attentions of Louisa Musgrove, Anne is also pursued by her wicked cousin, Mr. Elliot (played by Paul Stout).

Circumstances have given Anne a second chance to marry for love.  Will Anne now follow her heart?  Austen makes fine arguments about women as “rational creatures”, whose stories would take different turns, but for the fact that the women’s stories are recounted “through history and books, nearly all of which have been produced by men, and many of which castigate women’s inconstancy and fickleness”.  During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, for women, marriage was the only ticket out of the class they were born into.  Practicality dictated that they use reason, over emotion.  Despite these constraints, Austen’s heroines demonstrate that they can think rationally, display a fair measure of autonomy, and crave independence.   Jane Austen’s heroines marry for love, not practicality.  And it just happens that guided by love, their chosen path leads them to the man who is worthy of their love, is well regarded in society and very wealthy.  Isn’t it every woman’s dream, even today? Not surprisingly, time does not dim the popularity of Jane Austen.

Persuasion is playing at The Bay Area’s Premiere Off-Broadway Theater, The Stage , in San Jose, from April 3 to April 28, 2013.

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Reckless – Play Review

Reckless – Play Review

Reckless, a spooky, comedy, action, murder mystery is currently running at the San Jose Stage Company. Written by a gifted playwright Craig Lucas, the play is brilliantly directed by Kenneth Kelleher. Jamie L. Johnson has done an outstanding job as Stage Manager, beautifully utilizing the quirkiness of the stage, and Halsey Varady’s acting, in the role of Rachel, is absolutely fantastic.

Rachel is the chirpy wife and mother of two, with a brain that runs a mile a minute, jumping from topic to topic, as if powered by strong stimulants. Her quiet despondent husband took out a contract on her life, on X’mas eve, (talk about spooky presents), but balked before the act happened. In a fast moving plot, Rachel throws the wedding ring out of the window, and finds herself on a strange journey. Is it real or imagined? Who is to say? Sometimes life unfolds, with all its improbability and coincidences and twist and turns, in a strangely random, unpredictable, unplanned and ridiculously funny manner. Doesn’t it? Or is she imagining her journey that frees her and sends her on a path of adventure and a quest for self-identity, in a Wizard of Oz kind of way? Well, haven’t your imagination carried you to far and distant places too?

Off she goes with a strange man, and lives with him and his wife, who is partly physically challenged and partly faking it. You have to see the play to understand this. Rachel goes on the talk show and wins big money, goes through therapy, witnesses murders, goes on a run, and finally her chirpiness along with life’s calamity drives away her only companion, before she retreats into a silent world. Only then she finds the balance and an opportunity to right some of the wrongs. This is a story about self-discovery, both through acceptance of trials and tribulations that life dishes out and through spunk and tenacity to take the risks and meet life half way.

“Reckless” is running at the San Jose Stage Company till December 16, 2012.

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