In its fourth Season in residency at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, the Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater company presents “Impresario Now!,” a fantastically entertaining focus of musical theater on tour across America scheduled for performances on Cape Cod and Nantucket Island, in Boston and New York City, and on Key West, premiering here on Martha’s Vineyard Island! Featuring a talented cast of both established thespians and fresh stage performers, this thrilling and hilarious collaboration stars the distinguished television and live stage actor, Donovan Dietz, who’s played along side such names as Al Pacino, Tony Shalhoub, and Jack Klugman, setting this smart script sailing with a soft command of the stage. Even in blue jeans, Mr. Dietz‘s performance cannot be dated in neither the 18th nor 21st centuries as his plea of and from the scene could not be more timeless or more relevant. All the World’s a stage apparently, and the reality of dealing with the ego and money involved in performance art has always been. In many ways, the life of art is a sorry second to the art of life. The exchange of interaction mixed with the solitude of life and loneliness is displayed along side one another in grand concert here in “Impresario Now!”
Money and fame have always been gold chained together, it seems. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had been residing in Vienna for a few years when he began drafting “The Impresario.” In private correspondence, Mozart wearily lamented of the superficiality and pretense wealth facilitates into art – that rather than supporting art, it often interfered to the detriment of the so-accepted fine art. Patrons and politics are played purposefully in “Impresario Now!” as everyone has their own agenda, and no one is who they seem. Powerful character performances portrayed by both Erika Person and Lisa Williamson illustrate divas in different periods of their respective careers. As youth and experience diametrically oppose one another in a same artist simultaneously, industry worth drives personalities to the edge (of each other’s throats)! Backstage boils over in a familiar fashion today as it did then, and always had. What we want, who we are, and how we see ourselves is reflected in the distorted mirror of pretense. She’s not the infatuation of a one of the producers – she’s a star! He’s not a womanizer with money – he’s a man of the World. Always acting, the players behind the scenes assume they’re centre stage, always striving for more glory.
The premise of Mozart‘s comic singspiel is that “Frank,” the impresario, along with a singer who assists him, auditions two actresses to be part of a new theatrical company. Although both are hired, they then argue over who will get the prime role, and whom would be paid more. Each performs an aria to back her claim. An agreement is reached. Subsequently, the tenor intervenes. Further compromise is then agreed upon with each receiving ‘large salaries and star billing.’ The Maestro Master’s work then concludes with the quartet, “Every Artist Strives for Glory.” The original composition lasted over three hours and is filled with anachronous language foreign to today’s audience, however, the premise is funny and Mozart‘s music is undeniably splendid. Co-authors, Nicole Aiossa, David Richmond, and Wendy Taucher, have adapted this concept for the modern stage beautifully! The open set presentation blurs the line even further between stage and stage door and the audience is among the artists, inciting the audience member to feel like a fly on the wall privileged to true A-list gossip.
Michelle Trovato‘s soprano is like a bird in flight ascending on to heaven. An aria was made (interior reference) for the captivating soprano of Maria Alu, too! Reprising the role of “Isolde Goldentrill,” Alu separates herself as soloist of supreme gifts, every bit living up to the innuendo of her character name. The bold and funny, Blake Friedman, sounds out by giving somehow charming character to the slimy sort that was his role in “Impresario Now!,” with a strong, husky vocal performance that will not soon be forgotten – an outstanding tenor, indeed!
Who’s playing whom? While titles mean everything, somehow a title can mean nothing. Whom is the ruler? Whom is the star? And who’s getting paid what? The jovial James Martin plays “Fredrico Goldentrill,” a character pulled and pushed in so many directions, the poor fellow doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going sometimes. Mr. Martin expressed the frustration of a man in the middle well. While seemingly in the middle, too, is Frank’s assistant, “Buddenbrooks Buff,” portrayed with an undercurrent of longing looking to burst up to the surface by a the brave baritone of Justin Ryan, who along with James Martin, blew the flaps of the grand tent on the bluff apart. Robert Mack is a tortured delight as “Vincenzo Birdwhistle,” a principle actor who is more a pawn then a player in life. The sweet, sad, sorrow in Mack‘s vocal tones of a person alone in a crowded room. Dietz‘s performance of the man in control of everything and nothing at the same time is as fresh and relevant as his character doesn’t feel. Frank doesn’t know whether to sod it all or not. As principal of “Impresario Now!,” Dietz is reduced the frustration of near tears throughout, demonstrating exhaustion and dissatisfaction all while supposedly maintaining a simple, all-is-well, smile. The complexity of Mr. Deitz‘s character performance is as earnest as Frank is duplicitous. It was a true delight to witness.
Brava to Director, Choreographer, and Co-Author, Wendy Taucher! This adaptation of Maestro Mozart‘s backstage farce is as much Hollywood or Washington in the twenty-first century as it may have been Vienna in the mid-eighteenth century, or perhaps Rome in the days of the Caesars, or Egypt during their golden age. The message is timeless, and yet this telling is distinct and thought provoking from its own inclination. The Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater company is captivating and talented, and “Impresario Now!” should not be missed. On tour now across the country, scheduled to appear at Art Week in Boston for September, 2015, in New York City for separate engagements, and on Key West early in the new year of 2016, this troupe ensemble’s talent is a treat rarely seen this side of Broadway. Mozart abides this classic theme brought to the present as a refreshing, thoughtful and funny lark, peering into an industry driven by carefully cultivated imagery. It is especially exceptional to poke the fun one is being made of and at the same time not be part of the joke, as it were. It has been done here in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, on Martha’s Vineyard Island. The best talent does not exclude those same individuals from exhibiting the worst behavior, nearly driving the impresario to the brink of collapse.
However in the end, all things are as they were in the beginning – the show must go on!