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Walnut Street Theatre's "Amadeus" is a Classical Treat


AmadeusA solitary soul sits motionless in a wheel chair as two cloaked gents scurry back and forth like two rushing "little winds" of buzzing gossip, which is exactly who they are.

Amadeus is the story of the jealousy of Antonio Salieri, the most renowned composer of his age and his obsession towards a young upstart,”Leopold brat” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose true genius only Salieri could appreciate.

Dramatically narrated by a magnificent performance by Dan Olmstead as Antonio Salieri, the composer of the court as he invites us into his web to recreate his story of the young ambitious man who enters his world altering everything in Salieri's life. The hauntingly beautiful music of Mozart soars and tugs on the heart from The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute to the final Requiem.

Olmstead has the audience exactly where he wants them from start to finish. The play is both a virtuoso opportunity and a strenuous stamina test for the actor playing Salieri. He has numerous monologues mixing outrage, devotion, humor--often at his own expense--and grim determination. Olmstead is up for the challenge.

Rob McClure triumphs as an energetic Mozart, a giggling troublemaker who indulges in baby talk and potty language and who spontaneously blurts out crass, candid remarks when meeting the great and powerful. A scattered brained genius who "records all his works in his mind and simply transfers them to ink and page;" a task that both amazes and infuriates Salieri, whose works quickly rise and fall under the fickle ears of the city of Vienna in the year 1823. Mozart presents his fresh new works to a stale old traditional art form and pokes fun at the Italian and European composers who reluctantly give way to this prodigy.

McClure spent a few moments relating what it is like to play such a remarkable person.

“Nothing is more humbling than trying to get inside this mans mind. I've listened to endless amounts of his music in preparation for this, and it is astounding. Genius is an understatement. I am looking forward to exposing the audience to a new perspective on Mozart. The classical composer and the far less classy man.”

Mozart suffers from the disapproval of his father Leopold as he chooses the "wife of his heart," a young beautiful Viennese woman Constanze Weber (Ellie Mooney). The playful, brazen young lovers share a convincing chemistry between them.

Walnut’s production is lavish with stunning gowns and brocaded coats courtesy of costume designer Colleen Grady. Paul Wonsek’s (scenic & lighting designs) use of backdrop projections adds a glorious dimension that richly transforms the stage into the Opera house, the Royals palaces and the streets of Vienna.

In the final scenes, the contest is not between Salieri and Mozart as Salieri realizes his pompous ambitions have not won God's approval but instead has made him the very mediocre man that destroyed Mozart life as well as his own. All the while the dejected young genius clings to Salieri, his ‘friend.'

The story comes full circle. In his final hour, the disconsolate Salieri babbles incoherently that he had murdered Mozart more than thirty years earlier. He was mad, of course. Or was he? This "Amadeus" is an immensely satisfying evening of intrigue, fine acting and simply great theater.

Amadeus plays at the Walnut Street Theatre through March 6th. For tickets information; call 215.574.3550 or visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org.

Contact Pati Buehler at pbuehler@philly2philly.com

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