Tag Archives: Leonard C. Haas

Multi-media Tchaikovsky at Verizon

Beyond the Score: Pure Melodrama? An exploration of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.  4, with the Philadelphia Orchestra,  Jaap van Zweden, conductor, Fred Child, narrator, Leonard C. Haas, actorVerizon Hall, Kimmel Center, April 19, 2012. Review for WRTI, 90.1 fm.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Unless it’s worth 1,000 notes. Beyond the Score, a multi-media project conceived by the Chicago Symphony to immerse newcomers with more than just the music is a good concept. We’ve enjoyed this kind of program before at the Philadelphia Orchestra. Thursday night, the score to get into and beyond at Verizon was Tchaikovsky’s  Fourth.   Fred Child, of American Public Radio, narrated and Leonard Haas acted incidents concerning the  life and process of one of the Russian master’s greatest works. (They did a good job.) Love, depression, marriage, homosexuality, these were factors.  So was Tolstoy’s influence and the dominant theatrical value of the time, melodrama. Beyond the Score, uses a screen directly above the orchestra stage. As  Childs and Haas traded remarks — the screen above the Philadelphians projected a narrative, often art scenes or characters from fiction.  This one was a bit like watching a PBS biography of a composer to his own live accompaniment. Thirty minutes might have held my complete attention. But an hour of show, tell and quotation can girdle the imagination.  I looked forward to the music on it’s own, and conductor Jaap van Zweden didn’t disappoint. The fate symphony, written in such anguish, caught fire early and never lost momentum.  Many subtleties were also captured.  The melancholy second movement, opening with Dick Woodhams’ oboe was every bit as as lovely as the pastoral landscapes on screen. Another pleasure of this concert was the preponderance of happy young people filling the hall.  I spoke to high school band students from Mechanicsville, Va., and college students signed on for the orchestra’s Meet & Greet reception. . Some one in marketing: Nice work.

Private Lives at the Lantern

Private Lives by Noel Coward, The Lantern Theater Company, St. Stephen’s Alley, 10th & Ludlow, Dec.  8 – 31, 2011,  Ben Dibble, Genevieve Perrier, Leonard C. Haas, K.O. DelMarcelle, Jessica Bedford. Directed by Kathyrn MacMillan. Review of opening Dec. 14 for WRTI, 90.1 fm.

Comedies date – even with celebrity drawing power. Noel Coward’s Private Lives is closing early on Broadway even with  Kim Cattrall’s good reviews. We’re pretty far removed from 1930s society…maybe that’s not the wit and glitter we crave now. In Philadelphia, at the Lantern Theater,  a seriously debonaire Ben Dibble, with pencil moustache makes a  flippant Elyot in the Coward play, and Genieve Perrier, black hair clipped with rhinestones, flaunts her way through the role of the equally narcissistic Amanda whom Elyot still loves and love to hate. The hell with love, says Elyot, to his new wife, Sybil (K.O. DelMarcelle), hoping for a tidy, cosy love.

Passion is the ruination of love. It brings jealousy, bickering, pettyiness both Elyot and Amanda believe. The former spouses meet up on their dual honeymoons and chaos ensues.  Leonard Haas plays the tweedy, stuffed shirt Victor Prynne, Amanda’s new groom.  Like the wronged Sybil, he’s utterly earnest, unlike Sybil, he always thinks he’s right.

The farcical situation leads where it might be expected and then detours. Private Lives  addresses the nature of intimacy, desire and expectations about boundaries, which have definitely changed for partners in the last eight decades!

The Lantern production substitutes some humor for slapstick but delivery of all this English inflected wit is a lovely change of pace from the serious drama it usually offers. There is so much fun and glamor. The  fisticuffs – choreographed by Alex Cordero – are terrific. Meghan Jones’s stylish modular set swings from a hotel balcony in Deauville to the interior of Amanda’s Parisian flat.

Amanda and Elyot take little seriously except their desire which  ignites.  Amanda admits she’s irresponsible to the core.  The couple’s wit provides an evening’s laughter at The Lantern.  Private Lives has lines to brood on too.