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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


Opus

Also see John's reviews of Living Proof and Pippin

Opus
Joe Kimble, Craig Wroe, Jeff Talbot, Jim Shankman and Natasha Sherritt
Playwright Michael Hollinger, a classically trained violinist, returns to his roots with a love letter to the world of classical music, Opus. The play follows the entangled relationships of the members of a world-renowned string quartet. The group replaces their emotionally unstable founder and violist, Dorian, just five days prior to their scheduled White House appearance. As this appearance is to be televised to over 25 million viewers, finding the perfect musical fit with their new member is of the greatest importance.

Despite the risks, the group then elects to replace the piece requested of them, Pachelbel's "Canon," with a far more difficult one, Beethoven's "Opus 31." The pressures of the challenge ahead and adapting musically and emotionally to the newest member creates the tension for this play.

Natasha Sherritt as Dorian's replacement, Grace, is eager and talented. Jeff Talbott as Elliot, the first violinist and Dorian's boyfriend, is high-strung and controlling; Jim Shankman as cellist Carl is grounded and direct. Joe Kimble as Alan is that rare breed of musician one expects to be playing football with his buddies rather than playing the violin. Craig Wroe as Dorian is driven to eccentricity in his quest for musical perfection. It is unclear how much of his eccentricity is due to the unnamed emotional/psychological imbalance for which he takes medications.

This elegant ensemble piece is artfully performed by the Florida Stage cast. There is a true sharing of acting space on stage, with each taking their turn on acting moments highlighting their characters while remaining ever present when not in the foreground. Their playing is expertly choreographed. The entire play features pre-recorded string players performing all of the musical moments on stage, and the cast seamlessly bows in unison with the tracks and one another to portray their characters. In a larger theatre, it may not have been detectable that they were not fingering their bridge. The sound system aptly helps complete this illusion, and the set by Kent Goetz adds colorful texture and depth.

Michael Hollinger is also the author of Red Herring, Incorruptible, Tiny Island, Tooth And Claw, and Boeuf. He has written seven touring plays for young audiences, and the scripts for three PBS short films. Hollinger is the recipient of the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays, and the Barrymore Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play (for Opus).

The Florida Stage, in conjunction with executive producer Gulf Stream Lumber, celebrates its 20th anniversary season with their production of Opus. Opus will be appearing at the Florida Stage through November 26, 2006. The theater is located in Plaza del Mar, at 262 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan. The Florida Stage is a professional theater, with extensive programs for young artists, hiring Equity and Non-Equity performers from across the United States. Tickets and other information may be obtained by calling the box office at (561) 585-3433 or (800) 514-3837, or on line at www.floridastage.org.

Cast
Carl: Jim Shankman*
Alan: Joe Kimble*
Elliot: Jeff Talbott*
Dorian: Craig Wroe*
Grace: Natasha Sherritt*

Crew
Director: Louis Tyrell++
Scenic Design: Kent Goetz+
Lighting Design: Richard Crowell
Costume Design: Suzette Pare
Production Stage Manager: James Danford*

* Designates a member of Actor's Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.

+Designates a member of the United Scenic Artists Union.

++ Designates a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.


Photo: Sig Vision, Inc.


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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