Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report - Quest for the Woman He Never Knew: A Review of All the Names, Quantum Theatre's April 12th 2015 Performance

Quest for the Woman He Never Knew
Review of All the Names, Quantum Theatre's April 12th 2015 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and PositivePittsburghLiveMagazine.com
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  April 14, 2015

With the sound of every eerie gong, the Quantum Theatre’s world premiere of All the Names kept the audience moving towards the light, falling deeper and deeper into the life and mind of Senhor Jose. In this adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Nobel Prize winning book All the Names, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, we are reminded that everyone has a story. Small objective parts of that story are kept in official records and the rest is in the hearts and minds of those we interact with over time.

He said he must know what happened to her. But it seemed more an obsession. And why her? Of “All the Names?” As a clerk at the National Registry, he had seen millions of names pass by, including celebrity names and information that he personally documented for hobby. But her file with discrepant and missing information, led Senhor Jose, played by James Fitzgerald, on a tangled investigation. It was a quest that would challenge the square introvert’s inner sense of purpose and place in the vast world we live in. Answers led to more questions, and more questions started to cut deep and personal. The line between right and wrong became blurred as he justified abusing his access to official documents and avoided being caught by the stoic Registrar, played by CMU Assistant Professor Cameron Night.

As Senhore Jose’s every decision and indecision is weighed out, his conscience is brought to life by actor and writer Mark Conway Thompson. Senhore Jose’s conscience is always with him, like a shadow. As his quest grows more complicated and he becomes more emotionally entangled, it becomes hard to tell whether it is he or his conscience that is at the helm. Along his journey he meets two women, both played by Point Park Instructor Bridget Connors. In the course of providing leads for his investigation both women ruffle his square demeanor and challenge his emotional frailness. We see into one of the women’s mind by her conscience also being personified, not mistakenly played by the same actor as the Registrar.

Actors playing multiple characters, omnipotent narration, and exaggerated sets that were almost like installation art, skewed the hierarchy of exactly which character’s course we were seeing play out. At times the audience spied down on the characters from second floor balcony. We sat across an oversized desk from the Registrar staring down on us, feeling small, inconsequent, and judged, just as Sehore Jose. Other times we were amidst the journey in a huge dark room transformed into a dreary abandoned school, where a cachophony of ghostly whispers chilled the air and walls were covered with names in chalk of those who had been there before – including mine now.

We walked amongst file boxes and documents seemingly suspended in midair. It transported the audience to a dream state where the line between reality and imagination blurred. The vastness and somewhat disorganization of the national registry poured over into the turmoil and chaos of the characters consciousness and the boundless ether of Senhor Jose’s mind –or even one’s own. A trippy talking ceiling really brought the threshold of sanity into question. Becoming Senhore Jose, some audience members were instructed to sit, sit in his place to hear investigation testimonies. This world premiere adaptation of Jose Saramago’s novel All The Names could not have been so exquisitely brought to life without artistic contributions of several talented people. Quantum’s Artistic Director Karla Boos, and Dramaturge Megan Monaghan Rivas, were committed to bringing this complex story to life. Each member of the small cast was intense and commanding. The masterful scenic design in the original Carnegie Free Library by Barbara Luderowski and Narelle Sissons was technically enhanced with lighting effects by Cindy Limauro; fantastic and engaging multimedia projections by Joe Seamans and enriching sound production by Chris Evans and Sarah Pickett.

After staying for the post performance discussion, some audience members shared that they found the work to be akin to Kafka’s works, filled with loneliness, inner turmoil, and the repressive confinement of societal convention. Artistic Director Karla Boos shared the inspiration and evolution of bringing this story to stage and it was clear that this project was an original and creative passion. And one that paid off. My friend Sandra, who went to the performance with me, said the real life little lambs were a nice touch. It is not your conventional play, it is absolutely excellent. The show is mesmerizing!

Additional Performances:
April 15th - May 2nd  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
For more information and tickets visit quantumtheatre.com

By:  Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
(c) PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It, Slapstick Rule Boeing Boeing

Roving Pittsburgher Report, If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It, Slapstick Rule Boeing Boeing

Most people don't realize when they attend Boeing Boeing at the Cabaret Theater presented by the CLO that there was a movie.
Boeing Boeing) is a 1965 American bedroom farce comedy film, based on the 1960 French play Boeing-Boeing, and starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis. It was released on December 22, 1965, and was the last film Paramount Pictures made with Lewis, who had made films exclusively with the studio since My Friend Irma (1949).
You could see the comic antics of Jerry Lewis and the physical comedy and body language translate into the CLO presentation as Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis roles are recreated by Connor McCanlus (Robert) and Tony Bingham (Bernard.)

Cast of Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

Bernard Lawrence (Tony Bingham) is a philandering three timing American journalist stationed in Paris, France. A serious womanizer, he has invented a devious system for juggling three different girlfriends: by dating stewardesses who are assigned to international routes on non-intersecting flight schedules.  For some time only one woman has been in the country at any given time! Bernard's romanced are run by a timetable of their landings and departures.
Tony Bingham and Connor McCanlus in Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

Much of the real comedy is developed by the machinations his long-suffering, straight laced housekeeper Bertha (Elizabeth Ruelas). She swaps the appropriate photos and food in and out of the apartment to match the incoming girlfriend—none of the ladies is aware of each other's presence in the apartment. They regard Lawrence's flat as their "home" during their Paris layovers.

Connor McCanlus in Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

But for those like Bernard operating on the edge of morality, all good things must come to an end.  His foolproof agenda is interrupted when his girlfriends' airlines begin using the Boeing aircraft. These faster flights change all of the existing route schedules and allow the stewardesses to spend more time in Paris. Without warning his three girlfriends will now all be in Paris at the same time. Fair warning at that time and now that it's important to pay attention to the news.  Although with a profession and three fiancés the audience is left to wonder how he had much time for anything especially the news.

Robert Reed (Connor), a fellow journalist and an old acquaintance, arrives in town and is unable to find a hotel room. He insists on
Connor McCanlus and Amanda Pulcini in
staying in Bernard's apartment for a few days. When he sees Bernard's living situation, he clumsily begins to take over Bernard's apartment, causing even more chaos.

The comedy except for Berthe's adept one liners is slow until the arrival of Gretchen, the German stewardess played by Lisa Ann Goldsmith.  Her lusty, brash German antics seem to challenge all other players to come up to her level of both slapstick and verbal comedy.  But the broad antics that characterized 1950's comedy reins throughout Boeing, Boeing.
Director Van Kaplan managed to get perfect humorous timing, great body language, facial expression and sheer audience delight out of his actors.
The on stage comings and goings remind one of Feydaux's plays which ruled the Theater of the Absurd.
Boeing Boeing has an extended run at the Cabaret Theater through May 10, 2015.  The two gentlemen at my table, my companion and another's husband laughed so hard they had streaming tears.  The wife and I were given to unmitigated belly laughs.  So if mom loves to laugh this would be a great mother's day outing.  It might also be a cautionary tale to individuals who juggle women or men.

Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Tony Bingham and Kelly Trumbull in Pittsburgh CLO's BOEING BOEING

About the Show ONE MAN + THREE STEWARDESSES = NON-STOP COMEDY! This Tony Award®-winning swingin’ ‘60s farce features Bernard, a wannabe-Casanova, with Italian, German, and American fiancées, each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent “layovers.” He keeps “one up, one down and one pending” until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris and Bernard’s apartment at the same time.
Performance Schedule
 Wednesdays 7:30pm Thursdays 1:00pm* & 7:30pm
Fridays 7:30pm Saturdays 2:00pm & 7:30pm Sundays 2:00pm
*With optional buffet at the CLO Cabaret on March 26 and April 23 Tickets Tickets start at $34.75 and are available online at CLOCabaret.com, by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square.

purchase tickets here:

Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster,
blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. She is a grandmother and great grandmother, an unlikely trendsetter for online journalism and broadcasting. Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal. But better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation that represents the new second generation of World Wide Web interactions, known in technology circles as Web 2.0. JQS is the online publisher of PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, TOO BIZET TO LOVE CARMEN?


By Tamar Cerafici

I live in rural New Hampshire. It’s a hike to get to anything “artsy.” So when my friend Bunbury said, “When you come to Pittsburgh, we’ll go to Carmen,” I sort of jumped at the chance.
To be frank, I’m not a fan of Carmen. My mother was a coloratura soprano with a specialty in the Bel Canto style, so I was raised on the works of Donitzetti and Puccini, where the mezzo soprano provides nice support in quartets, and the melodrama is all focused on the woman with tuberculosis. And I can never listen to Carmen without thinking of the Gilligan’s Island “Hamlet” episode. But I was starved for culture – so of course I went.

The Pittsburgh Opera’s production changed my mind about Carmen. Here is a heroine full of fire and determination, played with dark fervor by Rinat Shaham. Not a hint of a cough in site. Not one asthmatic wheeze. She is a gypsy, used to the company of thieves. This is a character that lives right up to the moment she doesn't.
I guess this production is just different from the many others I’ve seen, or perhaps I was paying attention. Maybe the deft casting of an intense mezzo and fine actress (Ms. Shaham is both) against a rather aggressive (as opposed to lovesick) Don José underscored the violence that most productions hide.

Michaela fends off Morales
David Bachman Photography

Rinat Shaham +
And this is a violent opera. Don José (AJ Glueckert) is violent man. He tells his lieutenant, Zuniga (sung superbly by Philip Gay), that he joined the army because he got in a fight with a man in his village – given his jealous proclivities throughout, one assumes it was over a girl – and he was forced to leave. José kills Zuniga to join Carmen and a band of thieves. But I wonder: did he kill Zuniga primarily because the officer had a rendezvous with Carmen? Then I wonder, what if he had to leave his village because he killed his victim in a jealous rage? Little acts of violence permeate Marc Astafan’s bleak production, and they all lead to the ultimate act of violence. Carmen’s world itself is violent; Carmen’s murder seems a fait accompli. José is drawn to her like a moth to the flame: we know somebody’s going to get hurt.

While Carmen is all fire and blood, Glueckert’s Don José seemed a little pale. Glueckert’s tenor is light and seemed out of proportion to Shaham’s rich and vibrant vocals. On the other hand, this seems intentional, a result of Astafan’s direction and not the lack of vocal skill or quality. His French diction could have been a little crisper, and he could have been more ardent in his more important arias. I applaud his effort to draw sharp contrasts between Carmen and her lover, though.

Escamillo greets the ladies
David Bachman Photography

Morgan Smith +
Speaking of Carmen’s lovers, Morgan Smith’s Escamillo was the highlight of this production. He is a presence to contend with - the only character that seems to match Shaham’s Carmen. They are perfect together. If the Pittsburgh Opera want to bring him back, I can only say: Yes, please. This was his debut performance with the company, and I wonder why it took Christopher Hahn so long to find him. I would listen to him sing the phone book, or even the editorial page of the Tribune-Review. That’s how good he is.

Carmen Dances for Jose
David Bachman Photography

Jasmine Muhammad *
The supporting cast was marvelous, but artist-in-residence Jasmine Muhammad gets my vote as a standout. Micaela is a thankless part. All she does is try to save Don José and remind the lost sheep of his fold back home. She is the Greek Chorus to the larger tragedy playing out on stage, and she really has no other job except to remind us that José had some worthy characteristics at one time. She – Micaela, not Muhammad – always seems a little co-dependent to me. But Muhammad played her character with clarity of voice and urgency that rose above the part. Her Micaela was a woman of purpose.

Gypsies surround Zuniga
David Bachman Photography

On the whole, this Carmen is a production worth seeing. The orchestra and chorus do solid credit to Bizet’s music. I would have really like to see a flamenco or two (in that regard, Astafan fell short of the mark). I might have wished a more impassioned Don José. But I understood Astafan’s spare style, and appreciated it. Really, this is a spare opera. It is stark and lush at the same time. The Pittsburgh Opera production gets that.

Carmen accepts her fate.
David Bachman Photography

Former Pittsburgher and Environmental Attorney, Tamar Cerafici is author of the book Dominate, How Smart Lawyers Crush the Competition  and the blog Legal Shoe.