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The Maltz Jupiter Theatre presents the musical revue Tintypes conceived by Mary Kyte, Mel Marvin and Gary Pearle. Tintypes was originally produced by the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.. It then opened Off-Broadway on April 17, 1980, at the York Theatre, where it ran for 137 performances. The Broadway production of Tintypes opened later that year at the John Golden Theatre, where it ran for 93 performances. The score, which features the works of composers such as George M. Cohan, John Philip Sousa, Scott Joplin and Victor Herbert, is a blend of ragtime, patriotic songs, and romantic tunes popular in the years between 1900-1915.

Christine Paterson, Christopher Vittel, Dara Seitzman,
Lisa Estridge and Howard Kaye

Tintypes opens with the quintessential immigrant arriving in New York at the turn of the century. In the era between the turn of the century and the onset of World War I, the population of America doubled, electricity and the telephone were introduced into the home, the transcontinental railroad was built, and automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages. This revue does not delve deeply into any particular story or event but provides brief glimpses of people such as Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Emma Goldman, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Anna Held. Through carefully placed sequences of songs and miniature speeches, Tintypes is a tribute to the spirit and dreams of the people that made up America during a time when the country was amidst such historic change.

A live six-piece orchestra is ably lead by music director John Mercurio, whose ragtime piano playing is a highlight of the show. The ensemble singing is solid, but the vocal blend of the performers needs some tweaking. The pitches are all correct, but their tone and vibrato do not all match at times when they should. Each of the performers has a chance to be showcased at some point in the show.

Dara Seitzman appears timid at first, but soon emerges as a fine comedienne. She is feisty in her duet with Christopher Vettel entitled "Make me Love You," and her second act solo "Jonah Man" is one of the best songs in the show. She shows off a well-placed, mellow belt and an understanding of musical line in this song. Graced with the best costumes in the show, Christine Patterson is lovely as Anna Held. Her rendition of "Kiss Me Again," which displays her high notes, is also one of the best songs in the show. Lisa Estridge seems out of place vocally in this musical time period. She has the most difficulty blending with the ensemble due to her vibrato, and her darkened placement changes into her chest voice do not serve the music. Christopher Vettel is obviously well trained, and his voice technically fits the music quite nicely. His speaking voice on his Teddy Roosevelt speeches is wonderful. Never having actually heard Teddy speak, Vettel is exactly the voice I will now hear in my head whenever I think of Teddy Roosevelt. His lack of warmth in his singing voice, however, results in a very emotionally detached sounding end product on songs that are of a romantic nature. Howard Kaye, our quintessential immigrant, provides the strongest comic presence throughout the show as in the song "Then I'd Be Satisfied" and the vaudeville standup routine in second act.

Lighting design by Donald Edmund Thomas enhances the production beautifully—complementing both the mood and the set. Choreography by Josh Rhodes is entertaining but a bit stale, and is under-executed by a cast of performers who are clearly singers rather than dancers. While this generally does not affect the overall quality of the numbers, it is obvious in the more specific, stylized dances of the time period. There is also frequently no reason within the show for someone leaving the stage, and way too many times the actors are grouped center stage in a line. Rhodes and director J. Barry Lewis need to find a stronger way of connecting the songs, as many of them whiz by quickly. It is the nature of the show that some songs are not done in their entirety, and a lack of smooth and organic transitions make the songs feel awfully random and unmotivated. One of the bits used in the second at that works brilliantly is a sort of game of musical chairs on wooden boxes with a lone apple as the prize. More of this sort of creativity is sorely needed in the staging of this show to sell its charm, as without it Tintypes is merely a vaguely pleasant but rather uninspired theatrical outing.

Tintypes will be appearing at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through February 28, 2010. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a 550-seat, nonprofit, community-based Equity regional theatre belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, and the Florida Professional Theatre Association. This theatre employees both local and non-local Equity and non-union cast and crew members. The theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd. (just off of A1A) in Jupiter, FL. For tickets and complete information on the theatre's offerings, contact them by phone at 561/ 575-3332 or 800/ 445-1666, and online at

Charlie: Howard Kaye*
Emma: Dara Seitzman*
Susannah: Lis Estridge*
Anna: Christine Paterson*
Teddy: Christopher Vettel*

Director: J. Barry Lewis**
Music Director: John Mercurio
Choreographer: Josh Rhodes**
Scenic Design: Michael Raiford***
Lighting Design: Donald Edmund Thomas***
Sound Design: Keith Kohrs
Costume Design: M. Shan Jensen***
Stage Manager: Nicole Bouclier*

**Designates member of Actors' Equity Association: the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

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

***Designates member of the United Scenic Artists, a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists and Craftspeople.

***Designates member of the United Scenic Artists, a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists and Craftspeople.

Photo: Alicia Donelan/Fresh Appeal Photography

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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