Every theatrical element came together at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s production of “Amadeus.”
The story by Peter Shaffer, the direction of Russell Treyz, the outstanding cast and the professionals who saw to the scenic, costume, lighting and sound design and the stage management, all contributed to make this production a triumph.
The story of Amadeus and Salieri, two classical composers, fictionalized for popular consumption, was filled to the brim with hilarity and by turns poignancy, and philosophical. Just as we had settled in to our seats, we heard a shouted “I don’t believe it,” “I don’t believe it,” when two perfectly wigged and outfitted gentlemen met together at the corner of the stage. They were the Venticelli I and Venticelli II, captured brilliantly by Woodrow Proctor and Brian Owen, as they moved and fluttered and completely charmed. They served as kinds of narrators, keeping the storyline moving along. Paid gossips, really, they delivered “breaking news” to the Emperor Joseph II and his musical court in Vienna.
The scene changes dramatically with the dynamic presence of Jonathan Holtzman as Salieri, who was the court composer and musician to the Emperor. Seen first seated in a wheel chair with his back to the audience, we meet him as the aged Salieri, who continues to outlive his fame and purpose. He’s distracted, as he considers taking his life. Holtzman expresses Salieri’s thoughts in a number of unforgettable monologues. He speaks of his abandonment by God as he reminds us of his agreement with God to live a life of piety, dedication, and service in exchange for God making him the most renowned musician in Vienna. He believed fervently that God would make good on their agreement.
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Instead, God had allowed Mozart to come to Vienna.
Andrew Youngerman, became Mozart right in front of our eyes. He is youthful, energetic, brilliant, charming, a genius in his errant white wig, and his brightly brocaded coat. But by turns, the youthful prodigy becomes flamboyant, arrogant and bawdy. Salieri and members of the court are roundly surprised by his appalling behavior when he arrives in Vienna. With him was his future wife, Constanza, perfectly offered by Stefani Resnick.
Youngerman is the most perfect Mozart as he offers energy, physicality and brilliance. He also is convincing as he stands his ground, unwilling to compromise what he knows to be true about the writing and performance of classical music.
When the Emperor, played with just the right amount of authority and silliness by Russell Garrett, offers some suggestions, he refuses to make any adjustments.
Katherina Cavalieri, as offered by Jillian Paige, magically provides a wonderful dimension to Salieri, especially after we meet his wife, Teresa Salieri, played stoically by Jenny Zmarzly ,to whom he has been supremely loyal.
In a variety of circumstances, Mozart, Salieri, and the Emperor are supported by the outstanding performances of Kapellimeister Boono by Tony Falgiai; Baron von Swieten by Daryll Heysham; and Count Orsini by Tony Triano. The cook, played by; the servants, played by Nico Baumgartner, Tony Falgiani, Michael Dillon Warren, and Austin Lucas, are perfect as they support the comings and goings of the gentlemen of the court.
From the first note of Salieri’s Symphony in D Major, La Venenzia, which begins this remarkable play to the last notes of Mozart’s Lacrimosa in his Requiem Mass, the beauty, the intricacies and richness of this poetic drama will remain with you for a very long time.