Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Merry Widow at the Rep.

I went to a dress rehearsal of The Merry Widow, directed and re-conceptualized by Eric Pinder, and conducted by Aaron Collins. Pam Schwartz and I searched for and found an open stage door. The cast could be heard warming up their voices in the distance. A life-sized model of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sat tireless back stage. It was a challenge to find a way into the theater without walking onto the stage. I could see that the cast was dressed to the nines from the wings. This production features the best vocal talent in the area with members of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra in the pit. I was excited to sketch the pit in action. Not many productions feature a live orchestra so predominantly. The steam punk themed set must have been left over from the previous show. Perhaps it was intended to indicate the complicated gears of love.

Leading lady, Hanna, (Claire Tendl) inherits a fortune from her late husband. The year is 2005, and she is so wealthy that everyone who is anyone in Silicon Valley is vying to get into her inner circle in order to gain access to a piece of her wealth, in the range of $300 million. Believing that a new marriage is the best way to secure her inheritance, business mogul friend, Baron, (John Segers) springs into action with the help of his own wife, (Eliza Healy Dopira) to find Hanna the right husband. It proves to not be as easy as it seems. The clever widow has her sights set on the charming and reckless Daniel, (Kevin Romero) a former college flame. There is only one problem, he has no intention of sacrificing his bachelor lifestyle for the comfort of marriage. He has a "wealth" of ladies to keep him entertained, and not even the promise of Hanna's fortune can pull him away from his drunken escapades. Rendezvous are rampant. Complications abound.

The cast of about 20 often filled the stage with a party atmosphere. Claire Tendl's singing was amazing. Kevin Romero acted with a drunken vaudevillian bravado, his body often struck in an arching curved gesture. The modernization of the show was most obvious in the third act which took place in a strip club called Maxim's, complete with a stripper's pole, on which Dawn Humphries gave an athletic performance. I wouldn't mind this being an Olympic event. Money was thrown everywhere, as the other dancers gyrated on several chairs. Then the club abruptly emptied leaving the lead couple, Hannah and Dan, playfully holding onto the pole and spinning around it together.

The Merry Widow will be presented in the Edyth Bush Theatre at the Orlando Repertory Theatre (1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803). Tickets are on sale now with local Orlando shows August 10th through the 13th. There will be two satellite shows in Melbourne and Vero Beach August 19th.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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