Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This North Coast Weekend

Two holiday productions begin this weekend. Dell’Arte’s touring show this year is The Musicians of Bremen, based on a tale first recorded by the Brothers Grimm. It's directed by Michael Fields, with music by Tim Gray. I'll be reviewing it in the NC Journal next week.

Ferndale Repertory Theatre presents the Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors (photo above) by Gian Carlo Menotti. It was written for network television in 1951, so it’s short enough for children. The Ferndale production features soprano Elisabeth Harrington, Jacob Smith (as the boy Amahl), Luke Sikora, James Wright and Steve Nobles. Dianne Zulegar is music director, Daniel Nyiri scence designer, and Linda Maxwell choreographer. Justin Ross and Jonathan Webster accompany on keyboards.

I was a child when Amahl and the Night Visitors premiered on TV. I remember that my (Italian) grandmother loved it, and it was shown on TV every Christmastime during the 50s--sometimes called the Italian Decade in popular music, not only for crooners like Sinatra and Perry Como but for the popularity of opera music. After all, the first million selling record in America was by Enrico Caruso, and operatic voices like Mario Lanza were often heard on radio in those years.

But even in these different musical times, the Three Tenors phenomenon suggests openness to the operatic. Opera is also generally more exciting live--including the singing. Amahl and the Night Visitors is sung in English, and since the story that involves the three Magi and the Nativity is told from a child’s point of view, it remains a family Christmas classic.

Amahl and the Night Visitors opens at Ferndale Rep on Friday November 26 and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm until December 19. The Musicians of Bremen has its opening weekend Friday (Nov. 26) through Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm in Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre before heading out on its traditional North Coast tour, returning to the Carlo Dec. 16-19. Continuing: Charley's Aunt at North Coast Rep (my review is in the Journal this week.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This North Coast Weekend

North Coast Rep opens the comedy Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas, directed by Nathan Emmons on Thursday November 18, and continues Fridays and Saturdays through December 11 at 8 pm, with one more Thursday performance on December 9. The cast features Anders Carlson, Jasper Anderton, Neal Schoonmaker, Jackie Bookstein , Lanelle Chavez, Kathleen Marshall, Brittany Williams, David Moore, David Simms, and Phil Zastrow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This North Coast Weekend

Jeff DeMark performs his original They Ate Everything But Their Boots at Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre Friday through Sunday (Nov. 12-14) at 8 p.m. There will be more music than in earlier incarnations, DeMark says, this time provided by Tim Randles as well as Matt Knight. “I’ve edited parts of it, I wrote a new ending and generally just tried to find the truth and humor in it. I’ve realized it’s really about things other than the search for a house, though that is certainly in it, and the whole process and madness of rehabilitating a 100-year-old Victorian. It’s about the journey of trying to find a place to fit in, to feel home, and with that comes a lot of feeling of destiny, luck or lack of luck. There are thoughts about synchronicity and how little logic has to do with our lives as compared to chance and fortune.”

The set is by Michelle McCall Wallace, her spouse Jerry Lee Wallace appears in a cameo. DeMark has dedicated the first night as a benefit for Arcata House, which provides transitional housing to local families.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This North Coast Weekend

Redwood Curtain opens Humble Boy, a 21st century comedy by Charlotte Jones, featuring Susan Abbey, Theresa Ireland, Christina Jioras, James Read, Garry Summers and Dmitry Tokarsky, directed by Cassandra Hesseltine. Previews are Thursday and Friday Nov. 4 &5, with gala opening on Saturday Nov. 6. Performances continue Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through November 20th, with a Sunday matinee on Nov. 14 at 2.