Showing posts with label Jared Calhoun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jared Calhoun. Show all posts

Friday, July 19, 2019

Candlelight's Classic "South Pacific" Carries Modern Message

By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Candlelight Theatre continues its 50th season with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific. Although written in the 1940s, some of the show’s themes still resonate with our society’s current social climate.

South Pacific runs through August 25 at Candlelight Theatre.
Photo by 
Tisa Della-Volpe.
Director and Choreographer, Renee Dobson does a superb job bringing this romantic show back to the stage. Two relationships are blossoming on a south pacific island during World War II. Nellie Forbush, a na├»ve U.S. Navy nurse from Arkansas, is falling for Emile de Becque, a debonair French plantation owner who escaped France many years ago to live on the exotic Bali Ha’I island, while Joseph Cable, a lieutenant sent to the South Pacific to perform a dangerous war mission, is falling for Liat, the daughter of a civilian Tonkinese vendor and friend of the American Seabees, “Bloody Mary." Wanting a better life for her daughter, Bloody Mary is hopeful Cable will marry Liat.

However, life is not just a bowl of jello for the for the four characters. Both, Nellie and Cable are open-minded, but still have to contend with prejudice ideology instilled in them by their families. Nellie is grappling with accepting Emile’s children from his previous marriage to a Polynesian woman, and Cable is torn about loving Liat because of her ethnicity. Both understand their thoughts are based on what they were carefully taught, not the thoughts that either particularly believe are right or true.

The heaviness of the love stories and the war occurring around them are lightened with comical moments mostly provided by Bloody Mary and the American Seabees working on the island, especially during the service men’s stirring numbers, Bloody Mary and There is Nothin’ Like a Dame. Two songs that get the toes a’ tappin!

Ms. Dobson maintains a great pace for the show. Classic musicals tend to be long and can drag if not under the strong supervision of a talented director like Ms. Dobson. The continuous movement of the show is in part due to Scenic Designer, Jeff Reim, who created stunning sets that move seamlessly on and off stage. Timothy Lamont Cannon’s costumes perfectly capture the era of the greatest generation and allow the actors to move and dance freely.

Colleen Clancy as Nellie and Peter Campbell as Emile are superb. They both greatly convey the emotional turmoil their characters are experiencing. And, both are exceptional singers. Mr. Campbell’s baritone voice is transcendent and melts the room, especially during Some Enchanted Evening, while Ms. Clancy, brings smiles on faces during her exuberant number, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair. 

The leads are supported by many fine performers, including Andy Spinosi as the heroic Cable. He finds the right tone and expression needed to convey the significant lyrics in You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught...truly showcasing his masterful vocal techniques. Angelica Feliciano radiates as Bloody Mary. Her stunning rendition of Bali Ha’i captivates and transports the audience to the enchanted island. She along with the wonderful Jared Calhoun as the loveable but always scheming Seabee, Luther Billis, provide comedic relief for this show about war and suppressed love. I would be remiss not to mention the exuberant Seabees and nurses, who are fabulous during their exciting dance numbers!

Don’t miss this classic that still has lessons for our society to learn about love and acceptance. 

For tickets, visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org or call 302.475.2313.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Lend Us an Ear: 'Lend Me a Tenor' is a Heckuva Hit!

By Carol Van Zoeren
Carol is a 40+ year veteran of community theater and retired from DuPont.

Lend Me a Tenor (running at Candlelight Theatre now through June 23) is a six-door farce by prolific playwright Ken Ludwig. Originally produced in the late 1980s, the premise is that a world-famous operatic tenor, Tito Merelli (Paul McElwee), is coming to guest star with a mid-tier opera company. All involved are desperate and determined that this be a success, to raise their standing (individually and as a company) in the opera world.

“Desperate and determined” is an excellent foundation for a farce. And each actor has taken this idea to heart. Heading the action is Max (Jared Calhoun), beleaguered yet ambitious assistant to the Company’s General Manager, Saunders (David Wills). Calhoun and Wills clearly enjoy playing off one another. Their scenes crackle, reminiscent of Bialystock and Bloom in The Producers. I must commend these actors who, in an extremely long nose-to-nose silence, manage to keep a straight face so the audience can laugh, at first uncomfortably, and eventually raucously.

McElwee conveys the arrogance of an international opera star, but he really shines when he too becomes desperate and determined. As his wife, Rebecca Schall embodies the hot-tempered Italian firebrand. Hallie Hargus as Maggie, Saunders’ daughter and Max’s girlfriend, captures the rebellious streak of emerging womanhood. Julia Kershetsky plays Diana, the opera’s sultry soprano star. Hargus and Kershetsky are hysterically naughty in their parallel illicit trysts. Gerri Weagraff nails the flighty society type, and rocks a costume that’s another nod to The Producers. Rounding out the cast is Anthony Connell as the star-struck Bellhop. While Connell is an excellent lead actor, he is also a master of smaller roles. He bides his time in the background, and finds the peak moment and precise delivery to wring all the goody out of his few lines.

While the individual performances are all excellent, what truly elevates this production is the ensemble as a whole. There are short-burst, back-and-forth between two or more actors, and the timing is impeccable, punctuated by the precise slamming of doors. I have noticed this before in Bob Kelly shows: each actor is good, and their ensemble work makes the show great. Kudos to him, and to the cast for doing the hard work to get this timing spot on. And another thing 
— under a less-disciplined director and cast, farces can accelerate to runaway trains, leaving the audience as exhausted and confused as the actors. Kelly and cast intersperse short-burst mania with slow burn comedy, carefully mining the text for the best laughs. 

On the technical side, the costumes were effective. I mentioned Weagraff’s above, but also note the Pagliacci costume, makeup and hair that made the mistaken identities totally believable. (Oops, maybe that was a spoiler. Sorry.) And kudos to the scenic designer, Envision Productions. It’s not easy to build a set with doors that are robust enough to endure this much slamming.

Oh, the curtain call is a special treat. Jus’ sayin’.

Bottom line? Candlelight’s production of Lend Me a Tenor is a heck of a lot of fun. Sit back and enjoy!
See www.candlelighttheatredelaware.com

Footnote: In the original late 80s version, Merelli was going to star in Othello, in blackface. Guess that seemed funny at the time. Thankfully, this has been updated to Pagliacci, with the tenor in clown face.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Candlelight's "Brigadoon" Enchants and Delights


By Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

Candlelight Theatre opens its 50th season with Lerner & Loewe’s classic musical, Brigadoon. As the legend goes, a village called Brigadoon awakens every 100 years in the Scottish highlands and remains awoken for only one day.

Director Bob Kelly does a fine job of bringing this magical story about two current day Americans (Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas) who are exploring Scotland and happen to be visiting on the day Brigadoon comes to life. They get pulled into the mystery and romance that surround the residents within the fantasy village. 

Brigadoon is whimsical, but the story is slim…it’s the typical boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl in the end. The twist is that the boy (Tommy) has to make a decision within a day…is he willing to give up everything for the girl (his newfound love, Brigadoon citizen Fiona MacLaren). 

According to the laws of Brigadoon, a person can only move into the village if it’s for true love. Once a person comes to Brigadoon, he/she can never leave because if a resident should leave it would cause the village to disappear forever.   

However, the timeless score written by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) soars through the historic barn and into your heart. Songs include The Heather on the Hill, Almost Like Being in Love and my personal favorite, Come to Me, Bend to Me.

Kelly has assembled a magnificent cast, that do a great job using a Scottish accent. Sophie Jones is absolutely delightful as Fiona. She has a stunning voice and brings a sweetness to the character that would make a man fall in love with her within 24 hours. The man (Tommy) is played by the handsome Andy Boettcher. With his matinee idol looks and beautiful voice, it’s easy to see how Fiona would be wooed by him.

They are supported by a wonderful cast, that includes Analisa Wall as Fiona’s friend Meg Brockie and Jared Calhoun as Tommy’s friend Jeff Douglas. Both Wall and Douglas bring comedic fare to the show, especially when Meg recounts the many loves of her life to Jeff during her tongue-in-cheek number, The Love of My Life.  

The show also boasts both exuberant and passionate dance numbers by choreographer, Jody Anderson. Deirdre Treacy as Maggie mesmerizes in her solo dance to mourn the death of a Brigadoon resident who accidently dies while trying to leave the village. Her subtle and exquisite moves express the love and sadness felt by all the villagers.

Tara Bowers has created gorgeous period costumes that allow the dancers and cast to move freely on the beautiful set by scenic designer, Jeff Reim. Bowers’ tartan patterns on the wool clothing perfectly compliment Reim’s stoned outlined set with a sumptuous Scottish landscape that sits in the distance.

I say treat yourself and your family to an enchanting night at Candlelight Theater and see Brigadoon before it disappears on October 28. 

For tickets visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org or 302.475.2313.