STAGE REVIEW Players compose insightful 'Amadeus'

Engaging performances paint a vivid picture of the revered Mozart.
LISBON -- His behavior at times was unpredictable and often absolutely outrageous. However, despite his rambunctious actions his talent was incomparable and his musical compositions were superb.
This deceptively simple thumbnail description of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart provides only a mental glimpse into the life of one of the world's most gifted and most revered composers.
And Friday night, Stage Left Players filled in the gaps with an engaging, insightful production of "Amadeus" that gave theatergoers a vivid picture of the young man and a better understanding of events that occurred during his all-to-brief lifetime.
As a prelude to the performance at the Outreach Center, Jodine Pilmer set the mood for the production by playing several Mozart compositions on the church pipe organ as Devon Gentry provided the vocals.
An armchair trip
As if taking their cue from the music, the 14-member cast, directed by Amy-Anne Kibler, took the audience on an armchair trip back in time to the days when the talented Mozart was recognized for his genius despite that fact that his crude behavior often embarrassed or infuriated members of the king's court.
The unforgettable story is told in retrospect by Antonio Salieri, an acclaimed musician/composer. In his dramatic soliloquy he makes it apparent that he is extremely envious of the infuriating youngster and describes how he becomes tormented and considers murdering his rival as he and Mozart vie for recognition in the king's court.
Haunted by the fact that the talent of the irreverent, often obscene, youth eclipses his own, the devout Salieri denounces the God who he believes has betrayed him. He is outraged and angered when his painstakingly composed works seem only mediocre in comparison to the music apparently created effortlessly by the hedonistic Mozart.
Outstanding performance
As the frustrated, vengeful Salieri, Eric Kibler gives an outstanding virtuoso performance during his flawlessly presented soliloquy. He manages to appear solicitous, yet crafty and calculating as he does everything in his power to discredit Mozart.
Geoff Barnes is wonderfully enticing as Mozart, capably capturing the childish behavior that so antagonizes Salieri and at the same time arouses sympathy as he struggles for recognition and survival, and ultimately loses the battle.
Although the overall premise of the production is solemn, moments of humor are not only injected by Salieri but also by his rumor-mongering, foppish confidantes, Venticello 1 and Venticello 2, played perfectly by Earl Crecelius and Mark Frost.
The drama is dominated by the performances of Kibler and Barnes; however, their roles are enhanced by the fine support provided by other cast members including Anna Sturgeon as Constanze Weber (Mozart's wife).
Rounding out the excellent cast are Gary Barringer as Count Orsini-Rosenberg , Dan Haueter as Count Von Strack, Christin Price as Katherina Cavalieri and Anthony Mathews as Emperor Joseph of Austria. Also adequately filling their roles are Howard Wise, Kari Lankford, Elbert Householder, Connie Price, Molly Polite, Nathan Price and Elbert Householder.
Key to success
It as amazing that a story of such magnitude as "Amadeus" could be told with scarcely any scenery and few props. But the key to the success of this outstanding production is the compelling plot and the seamless interaction of the characters.
As Mozart's music lives on even after his death, the seemingly mad Salieri, in an attempt to make sure he is also remembered, admits he fostered the rumor that he killed Mozart, and deviously leaves the audience to wonder, "Did he do it?"

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