ROGERS & HAMMERSTEIN … What a great collaboration! Not just Richard’s music and Oscar’s lyrics But that of the Telluride Rep and the Telluride Choral Society in tackling one of my favorite morality tales from those tumultuous beatnik Fifties and early Sixties, The Sound of Music. Appearing on the scene just a decade or so after World War II and that post-calamity ping-pong of my life from R.C. Sem to Rez to the Haight-Ashbury … The Choral/Rep marriage is an inspired one. Everything about this production was impressive … Of course, the buzz was all over town Friday, after opening night. Gotta see it! And in this case, the buzz was worth the hoopla … When passing out kudos for a production, I usually start with the director (in this case choreographer too). And Cate Caplin’s hand was everywhere visible. First, I’ve never seen a TellRep production with such a grand scope of dance and stage direction – every person in every scene moving in a scripted but iconic way. I loved that tableau effects, from nuns with candles to kids with curtains-for-clothes hopping into view like frogs. Second, this production had an interlapping unity and ensemble strength that made it succeed in its own right. Having been a movie and a play and a many-performed favorite, this classic can be tricky, unless the show wins audiences for what it does, not what it compares to. By weaving ensemble acting, solo performances, group songs, dance, tableau and music, Caplin deserved a standing ovation like the cast and orchestra got the Saturday night I saw it … The core of the story revolves around two paired “couples” – Maria and the Captain, a rich widow and an artistic sycophant – set against the serious conceit of the rise of Nazi Germany in the late Thirties. Amy Vanderbosch and Sean McNamara were inspired leads as the nature-loving nun who falls in love with the widower patriarch (and his unruly brood of seven). Both sang beautifully, kept their characters believable throughout, and reinforced a pre-feminist fable of the overbearing male wooed from hierarchical behaviors by the virtuous feminine. Amy’s Do-Re-Me song made my eyes tear up – I’ve always loved that piece. And Sean’s solo tenor blew me away … In perfect synch to the hero couple, playwright Howard Lindsay gave us paired anti-heroes, in this production the phenomenal Traci Baize as Else Schroeder from Vienna and the lugubrious Jesse James Martin as the Imperial Austrian Second Minister of Culture Max Dettweiler. Both were a scream. Traci commanded a huge presence with her voice, her exaggerated (perfectly so) way of speaking that gave great conniving skill to a character not so nice as the heroine. I was entranced every time she spoke. Jesse added comedy – the eccentric bardic clown trying to curry favor among the rich and powerful. While not upstaging anyone (this was ensemble work at its best), Traci and Jesse were great counterpoints to Amy and Sean. What a lovely balance … Naturally, the charm of the show were the children. They did a great job. Delighting us with words and dance. Moving through an aggressive choreography of dialogue and routines. Enlivening every scene in which they sang. All seven of them, from the littlest to oldest, Liesl, Brittany Altman, who deserves special mention for a boy/girl song&dance with Spencer Zarr (as Rolf Gruber) that knocked my socks off … Karla Brown not only did a great job as the Mother Abbess, but her dazzling performance of Climb Every Mountain brought tears to my eyes again. And the chorus of nuns singing at the start and at the end was nothing short of phenomenal … I suppose I am getting old, sentimental and nostalgic, but I believe this was an amazing heart-string show of local excellence. Kudos to all. … The entire cast was on point, wonderfully agile in dancing through the action -- as professional a local show as I’ve seen in Telluride. But then the Palm Theatre kind of requires a step up from the rough-edged and short-changed postage-stamp stage of the Segerberg Opera House … The Rep’s tech people were phenomenal. Buff Hooper’s set design was fantastic. Monumental – as fitting a production in the Palm’s big space. From Swiss peaks to the Abbey’s stunning stain-glass-circle-like set. Mark Worth’s lighting and technical direction seemed flawless. Lene Andersen and Carolyn Doehrman’s costumes were perfect ... But what made this production such a winner had to be the Rep’s collaboration with the Choral Society and the fine musical direction of Dr. David Lingle and his marvelous assemblage of instrumentalists … Honestly, I don’t have any critical comments worth mentioning. That rarely happens in community theater productions. I mean this was mostly a show of amateurs, our friends and neighbors … If you missed this one, fellow citizen, you missed a classic. A Telluride classic.
WEEKLY QUOTA … “Be well and be ready. Change is upon us. Coming in all sorts of ways, perhaps no less profound than the one at the KT boundary! Not a good time for the dinosaurs among us – but for Homo telluridensis an opportunity not to be missed!” - Gary Lincoff, co-star of the new hit Canadian film about the Telluride Mushroom Festival, Know Your Mushrooms <www.shroomfest.com>
SKI FOUR … This time, my fourth outing on the slopes this year, I had a breakthrough. With a little coaching from Sara Friedberg, my 14-year-old ace, I went from snowplowing back and forth across double green runs to actually cutting turns. From pizza to French fries. My heels rocking back in my boots. Knees bent, spine straight. Lifting the non-lead ski into synch with the lead and using both edges to hockey stop, or just shlush into a slow turn … What fun!
THE TALKING GOURD
I am undone.
There is no 'musical instrument.'
No 'wisdom school.' No alchemy.
We hump each joy
as it comes, alas,
one selfless at last,
alone. In a time.
I stand in a sea of apology.
I admit to everything
-from an email of master bard
Log Hill Village